Divorce by Mutual Consent (Kyogi-rikon)
If both spouses consent to the divorce, they can register it at their local municipal office by submitting a registration document for divorce (kyogi-rikon). When divorcing by mutual consent, Family Court proceedings are not required.
Divorce by Conciliation (Chotei-rikon)
In the absence of mutual consent, one spouse may file a petition for conciliation (mediation) at the Family Court. A divorce through conciliation proceedings is called divorce by conciliation (chotei-rikon).
In the conciliation proceedings, issues of parental authority, child support, distribution of property, and compensation are typically discussed once the parties have agreed to divorce.
A settlement agreement in Family Court conciliation proceedings is as effective as a judgment made by a Family Court judge in litigation.
Divorce by Judgment of a Family Court (Saiban-rikon)
In the absence of mutual consent to the divorce or other terms in conciliation proceedings, one party may commence divorce proceedings at the Family Court.
During the litigation process, parental authority, child support, distribution of property, and compensation are also typically discussed. The judge in charge of the case usually encourages the parties to reach an agreement and realize the divorce by conciliation.
The Court issues a certificate of settlement once the divorce is granted.
Under Article 770(1) of the Civil Code, the grounds for divorce by court judgment are as follows:
(1) Infidelity of a spouse
(2) Malicious abandonment by a spouse
(3) Uncertainty as to whether the spouse is alive or not for more than three years
(4) The serious mental illness of a spouse with no possibility of recovery
(5) Grave grounds which make a marriage unable to continue
The plaintiff needs to prove one of the grounds above in the Family Court litigation.
If you are a foreign national, you should first check whether divorce by mutual consent in Japan is recognized under the laws of your country or not.
In cases where it is not recognized, we recommend that clients divorce through Family Court proceedings in Japan instead.