You are currently viewing International Divorce (1) – Overview

If you are living in Japan with your Japanese spouse, the applicable law for your divorce is most likely the laws of Japan and the Japanese family court will have jurisdiction.

Unlike most of the counties, Japan will allow the parties to divorce by agreement by submitting divorce paper to the city office where you reside.  This is the simplest way to finalize the divorce in Japan.

However, when it comes to international divorce, you must make sure that the divorce by agreement can be recognized in your country.  If your country only recognizes divorce by judgment, then divorce by agreement is not likely to be acknowledged in your country.

Considering the fact that there is only a small number of countries that allows divorce by agreement, we usually recommend international couple go through the court procedure, starting from divorce mediation at the court. 

In Japan, you have to file an application to court mediation (divorce) as the first. If the mediation fails because you cannot agree on divorce or conditions of divorce, then you need to file a divorce lawsuit.  In other words, generally, you cannot file a divorce lawsuit by skipping court mediation.

The difficulties for foreign nationals to go through the court procedure lie firstly in the language.  You are very lucky if fluent English-speaking mediators are appointed to your case (which is very rare).  Secondly, it is better to have knowledge of Japanese family law even to attend the mediation. 

To overcome those difficulties, it is vital to have legal advice from a Japanese lawyer and to engage a lawyer who could help you navigate the emotionally difficult process of divorce and represent you in the court of Japan.