Society | Feb 01

Post-Divorce Joint Custody Moves Forward: Legal Reforms to Overhaul Current Sole Custody Law

TOKYO, Feb 01 (News On Japan) - The Family Law Division of the Legislative Council of Japan announced on Tuesday a comprehensive draft proposal to revamp the system concerning child upbringing after divorce. The current Civil Code, which mandates sole custody by either the mother or father, is set for a major overhaul to allow the option of joint custody.

This landmark reform allows parents to determine the nature of custody through mutual consultation. In cases where an agreement cannot be reached, the decision will be made by the family court. This move is a significant step in addressing the increasing incidents of non-payment of child support, introducing a mandatory "statutory child support" payment.

Under the proposed changes, both parents will have the opportunity to play an active role in their child's life post-divorce, potentially benefiting the child's well-being and development. The reform aims to balance the rights and responsibilities of both parents while prioritizing the best interests of the child.

The introduction of "statutory child support" is particularly noteworthy. It addresses a longstanding issue where non-custodial parents often evade their financial responsibilities. This mandatory payment ensures that child support is treated as a priority, not as an optional obligation.

Legal experts and child welfare advocates have long called for such changes, arguing that the current sole custody system often leads to parental alienation and adversely affects the child's emotional health. With these reforms, Japan moves closer to international standards where joint custody is more commonly practiced.

However, the transition to this new system poses challenges. It requires a cultural shift in understanding shared parenting responsibilities and necessitates legal mechanisms to enforce compliance, especially in child support payments.

As the proposal moves towards legislation, it opens a public discourse on the evolving nature of family structures and the legal system's role in supporting children's rights and welfare in post-divorce scenarios.

These changes represent a significant shift in Japan's approach to family law, potentially paving the way for more inclusive and child-centric custody arrangements in the years to come.


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