International Divorce and Separation

Divorce is never easy, but for couples going through an international divorce, the process is even more complicated.

If you wish to divorce under Japanese law, the typical first step is to start a separation. 

It is not very common for married couples living in Japan to create a separation agreement during their separation period. However, it is often advisable to create a separation agreement that outlines issues such as spousal/child support, and if possible, an amicable access to the children. 

Japanese court orders can be enforced in many countries outside Japan, if your attorney goes through the right process. Clients are often recommended to utilize a court mediation procedure to finalize these types of separation agreements so that the agreement can be recognized and enforceable in overseas.

Resolution options for divorce under Japanese law:

Divorce by mutual consent  (Kyogi Rikon)

It is very common for Japanese couples to use this process to get a divorce. But if you are going through an international divorce, it is better to get it done through court procedure so that the divorce can be smoothly recognized in other countries.


This is a court procedure for you and your spouse to discuss/negotiate the conditions of the divorce agreement. If the discussion fails, you will need to bring the case up to the trial stage.


Unless there is a clear ground for divorce such as domestic violence issue or infidelity issue, it is likely that a waiting period of a few years during which you live separate and apart is necessary before you can get a divorce without a consent from your spouse. This process could take more than a year, and many things can go wrong during this period. You will need an experienced international divorce lawyer who can anticipate the most likely outcome of a number of legal issues such as Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support and Division of Assets. 

International Jurisdiction

If you or you spouse lives outside Japan, you may wonder which country you should start the divorce proceeding in.

Determination of international jurisdiction can be complex. Custody, financial matters such as support or community property, are sometimes different from just the jurisdiction of your divorce, and  may have a different jurisdiction.

We have a wealth of experience in international divorce cases and can provide valuable insight. If necessary, we will determine how to personally serve your spouse with the divorce proceedings and work with courts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to effect service.

Governing Law

Depending on the nationality and habitual residence of you, your spouse and your children, foreign law can apply to your divorce/custody case even when the proceedings take place in the Japanese court. For those cases, it is necessary to work with lawyers overseas.

We also have extensive experience determining which country’s law applies to a divorce/custody/spousal support payment case.

It is very important to have proper knowledge in an early stage in order to fight through this long process. 

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.