Japan Introduces Bill for Joint Custody After Divorce

Japan Introduces Bill for Joint Custody After Divorce

Tokyo, April 16, 2024 – House of Representatives of Japan took a significant step forward on Tuesday by passing a bill aimed at introducing joint custody arrangements following divorce proceedings.

The move marks a departure from the country’s existing Civil Code, which currently grants parental custody to only one parent post-divorce.

During a plenary session of the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, the bill advocating for divorced parents to have the option of choosing either sole custody or joint custody was approved by a majority vote. This decision reflects growing recognition of the importance of parental involvement in the upbringing of children post-divorce and seeks to provide greater flexibility in custody arrangements.

Under the proposed amendments to the civil law, in cases where divorced parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding custody of their children, a family court will intervene to make a decision based on the best interests of the children involved. This intervention aims to ensure that the welfare and well-being of the children remain paramount in custody disputes.

Furthermore, the bill includes provisions to address concerns related to child abuse or domestic violence. If there are suspicions or evidence of such misconduct by one parent, the family court will have the authority to grant sole custody to the other parent to safeguard the safety and security of the children.

The passage of the bill in the House of Representatives sets the stage for its deliberation in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Japanese parliament. With the ongoing regular Diet session scheduled to conclude on June 23, there is anticipation that the bill will garner support and be enacted into law in the near future.

If approved by the House of Councillors and subsequently enacted into law, the new legislation is expected to take effect by 2026. Importantly, the provisions of the bill will also be applied retroactively to individuals who have already undergone divorce proceedings, ensuring that they too can benefit from the revised custody arrangements.

The introduction of joint custody after divorce represents a significant milestone in Japan’s legal framework governing family relations. By affording parents greater flexibility and recognizing the importance of shared responsibility in child-rearing, the bill seeks to promote healthier and more equitable post-divorce family dynamics.

Moving forward, stakeholders will closely monitor the progress of the bill in the House of Councillors and its eventual implementation. The introduction of joint custody has the potential to foster stronger parent-child relationships, mitigate conflicts arising from custody disputes, and contribute to the overall well-being of children and families across Japan.