Japan may empower courts to handle more cross-border divorce suits

posted on October 13, 2015

After 18 months of deliberations, the Legislative Council of the Justice Ministry has drawn up an outline for legal revisions aimed at resolving a problem many failed marriages face: whether the Japan-based spouse can file for divorce here rather than overseas.

The council on Friday submitted a proposal to Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki that lists several scenarios in which Japanese family courts should be authorized to handle divorce involving couples of whom only one partner is still living in Japan.

If enacted, it would will mark the first time the government has clarified international jurisdiction rules for divorce.

Following are questions and answers on the issue:

What is the current situation?

Japan has no law that spells out the circumstances under which family courts can handle cross-border divorce disputes between a spouse who sues, the plaintiff, and his or her ex-partner, the defendant.

In the absence of a legal framework, family courts have traditionally decided on a case-by-case basis whether they have jurisdiction in divorce cases, relying only on past Supreme Court rulings.

The rulings acknowledged jurisdiction of the Japanese courts when the defendant was resident in Japan, because the inconvenience of being forced into a legal battle, it was deemed, merited greater consideration than the inconvenience faced by a plaintiff. If the defendant was overseas, that was where the case should be heard.

The-case-by-case approach means there has been no consistency in court judgments, while plaintiffs and their lawyers have had to convince the courts that they meet the special circumstances required to sue for divorce in Japan.

The lack of clear rules has placed prospective plaintiffs under emotional stress as they await a court's decision on where their suits should take place, said Tokyo-based lawyer Tomohiro Hayase.


source by newsonjapan
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