You are currently viewing International Divorce (2) – Court mediation, divorce litigation

Court mediation

Mediation is a process wherein the parties meet with an impartial and neutral mediator who assists the parties in the negotiation of their differences.

(1) How does court mediation work in Japan?
The court mediation for divorce is led by two mediators appointed by the court.   They assist your negotiation on issues that need to be discussed and resolved.  The major difference would be the style of mediation.  You might be familiar with co-mediation. However, mediation sessions will be conducted completely separately from the start to the end, which means there is no chance for you to hear what your spouse said or discuss with your spouse directly in the mediation unless you request co-mediation and your spouse agrees to do so.

(2) How often is the session will be held?
The court mediation session will be scheduled once a month, which might surprise you.  This means it takes some time to finalize the case; for example, if the case needs 5 sessions, it means it takes almost half a year to finalize the case.

(3) Mediation agreement
If the parties successfully agree on all the issues (divorce, custody, child support, division of assets, etc.), the mediation will be finalized by completing the mediation agreement.  This agreement shall have the same effect as a final and binding judgment.

Divorce litigation

If mediation is over unsuccessfully, the party who wants to divorce will file divorce litigation.

(1) Sole custody v joint custody
Under Japanese law, if the parties divorce by litigation, the court shall determine which parent shall have parental authority. This could be the biggest difference from the laws of your country, where joint custody is the norm. 
It is easy to understand that custody is one of the most harshly disputed issues in divorce litigation in Japan because the law does not allow joint custody.

(2) How long will it take to get the judgment?
It depends on how many issues the parties will contest in the litigation and the nature of those issues whether it is monetary issues or custody issue.  I would advise that you need to allow a year or a year and a half from filing to obtain judgment.

(3) Do you need to appear in court?
If you engage an attorney, then your representative attorney will prepare briefs and appear at the court if necessary (most of the proceedings are conducted online lately).  However, when the examination of the parties and/or witnesses will be conducted, you have to appear as plaintiff or defendant to have the examination.