Custody, Access, and Parenting

Joint custody(Shared custody)and Visitation rights under Japanese laws.

In custody disputes, the most important thing is to minimize the psychological damage to the children when their parents separate or get a divorce.

Overseas, many people agree that ensuring the children maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents is of the utmost importance. As of now, unfortunately it is hard to say that this view has become a common view in Japan and you may find a lot of articles stating that;

  • The Japanese legal system doesn’t allow for shared custody of children after a divorce or separation.
  • Japan is a nation that grants sole custody, usually to the mother, to a single parent and is common for a non-resident parent to have little, if any, contact with their children.

If both parents are non-Japanese nationals, there is a possibility that foreign custody laws apply and the Japanese court grants joint/shared custody to both parents.

People often don’t know that foreign custody laws can be applied in Japan when both parents are from other country.

Having handled those cases in which foreign custody law applied and having worked with lawyers overseas, we have the knowledge about how foreign countries structure their legal systems when it comes to joint/shared custody cases after separation/divorce, and how different approaches to custody affects the wellbeing of children. 

The Ministry of Justice seems to be considering revisions to the law, however it is not clear how long it is going to take until they take actual legislative steps to allow for shared custody after separation/divorce. 

There are a few cases where the parents are amicable enough to make an arrangement that is somewhat similar to joint/shared custody under Japanese law but often the situation gets too antagonistic before these discussions start.

Until the law is revised, we strive to achieve the best possible outcome under the current Japanese legal system. Whatever your situation is, you will need an experienced family law lawyer, who does not add to the conflict, to help you get the best outcome.

If you have a conflict (or a potential conflict) over child custody with your spouse, please feel free to set up a consultation.