Legal Services on Japanese Laws

Child custody and visitation rights

We provide general information about child custody and visitation rights.

Visitation rights

Japanese family law has specific provisions that refer to the visitation of child(ren) and father or mother and any other parent-child interaction as items to be determined by an agreement between the divorcing parents or by a family court. Legal practice in Japan considers the visitation rights of a parent who is separated from his/her minor child(ren) derives from this provision, even during the parents being married but separated. Japanese family law also provides that the visitation rights are subject to the best interest of child(ren) and sometimes are limited due to unwillingness of child(ren) to see the separated parent.

As explained in the above, Japanese family law requires the married parents to exercise the parental authority jointly; however, in Japan, some Japanese wives who are thinking of getting divorced sometimes take her child(ren) away from their home during their husbands' absence without advance notice. You may feel such action infringes the husbands' parental authority including custodial rights over child(ren) that should have been exercised jointly; however, legal practice in Japan does not consider such action either obstruction of exercise of parental authority by husbands or kidnapping, so long as the child(ren) was/were taken away peacefully and is/are under his/her/their mothers' protection in no danger of being abused.

Therefore, many parents, who are usually fathers separated from their children before or after getting divorced, face difficulties in seeing their children. Such parents can file petitions for a conciliation procedure with family courts to realize their visitations; however, the mothers living together with children tend to be reluctant to cooperate in giving children's fathers opportunities to see their children. In some cases, the judges appoint investigators, who are employees of family courts regarded as having specialized psychological knowledge and skills, to interview children and make reports regarding the appropriateness of having the children see their fathers. Family courts may decide the fathers can have opportunities to see their children regardless of children's unwillingness to see their fathers, however, such decisions are sometimes ignored by lack of cooperation of children's mothers insisting their children being unwilling to see their fathers.

Parental authority and duty to support child(ren)

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