Legal Services on Japanese Laws

Child custody and visitation rights

We provide general information about child custody and visitation rights.

Parental authority and duty to support child(ren)

Japanese family law provides that minor child(ren) who is/are under 20 years old is/are subject to the parental authority of his/her/their parents and the parental authority shall be exercised jointly by married parents. The idea of "parental authority" has broader meaning than the right of physical custody on child(ren) and includes the right of managing child(ren)'s property.

If the married parents are getting divorced, Japanese family law does not approve joint custody of child(ren) after divorce and either parent shall be determined as the person with parental authority by an agreement or a divorce decree. Since the parental authority includes all rights over child(ren) regarding physical custody and managing property, the parent who lost parental authority upon divorce will have no rights to require the parent with parental authority to seek consensus on exercise of parental authority over their child(ren). It might be possible logically that to separate the rights of physical custody over child(ren) and management of child(ren)'s property and assign them to different parent respectively; however, legal practice in Japan rarely approves such division of roles between the divorced couple.

Meanwhile, Japanese family law requires lineal relative, such as parents and child(ren) relationship, to support each other and this legal duty is not exempted by reason of losing parental authority. Therefore, Japanese family law has specific provisions that refer to the share of costs for child custody as an item to be determined by an agreement between the divorcing parents or by a family court. The parent having physical custody of child(ren) may file a petition for a conciliation procedure with a family court to decide the amount of child support even after getting divorced. Japanese family courts have standard for calculating the amount of child support according to each parent's annual income. If the parties cannot reach an agreement on the amount, the courts decide the amount and such a decision is enforceable.

Visitation rights

Sakuma Law Office
Kudan Southern Bldg. 2nd Floor, 9-1 Kudan-Minami 3-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0074 JAPAN   Tel: +81-3-6272-6916   Fax: +81-3-6272-6917