Article 760 of the Civil Code provides:
“A husband and a wife shall share the expenses that arise from the marriage taking into account their property, income, and all other circumstances.”
Maintenance (a party’s share of expenses arising from a marriage) includes the costs of food, clothing, housing and medical treatment, tuition, and a certain amount of leisure expenses. The expenses of dependent children under the age of 20 are also covered.
When a couple lives separately, the party with the lower income (typically, the wife) claims maintenance from the other. Where they are unable to reach an agreement on the amount of shared expenses, one of them can file a petition for conciliation proceedings at the Family Court. Should they fail to reach an agreement during those proceedings, then the case will move on to adjudication proceedings and the judge in charge will determine the amount of shared expenses payable.
There are two ways of calculating the amount of shared expenses. The simpler method is to refer to the chart created by the Tokyo and Osaka Child Support Research Group in 2003. This chart is used at family courts throughout Japan, and can be viewed on the website of the Tokyo Family Court. In order to calculate the amount of shared expenses, the only necessary information is the income of both spouses, whether the spouses receive a salary or are self-employed, and the number and ages of the children. However, the chart does not cover all cases. In such a case, the second method is adopted and the amount will be determined by calculating the various expenses.
Please bear in mind the fact that maintenance is only payable while the marriage continues. Once a couple divorces, shared expenses cannot be claimed. However, a parent raising a child following a divorce can claim child support.