8/07/2007

Question/ discussion point...

Today I got the following question in the comments section from a lady called Nay and I thought I would throw it all out to my readers whose spouses are Japanese:(As I know there are a few of you out there..) "My fiance is Japanese, and I have just been readng about the Japanese Custody laws in Gaijin Mama's blog (http://gaijinmama.wordpress.com./). Before you married Daisuki, did this ever cross your mind? If one day, we seperate, I may lose all custody rights to my own children. This thought fills me with so much fear...I would really appreciate any advice or thoughts from you, or other foreigners in Japan married to a Japanese national, regarding this problem." I will add my own thoughts later as I just arrived at work and although I don`t have much on today, I should at least pretend to be doing some work! I will publish all comments as I think this is a subject close to all of our hearts.

ETA that obviously anyone is welcome to comment but I figured the topic is most relevant to those of us with Japanese spouses but if anyone else has an opinion/ thoughts then please jump in.

Extra ETA- I would really appreciate it if people would put their names on comments, I have published the anonymous one this time for the sake of discussion but I really do prefer it when people own what they write.

10 comments:

Sarah said...

Like all things about marriage, it's a trust issue. I trust my husband and he trusts me, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten married in the first place. There are so many horrible things that can happen to a child on any given day that it is not healthy to worry about all of them or give way to your fears about them.

If Nay is worried and thinks this is a possibile future problem then she shouldn't get married. Or if she trusts her fiance, then let it go and don't think about it anymore.

If it is a very important issue, you could get some kind of pre-nuptial agreement signed that said in case of a divorce, you would be able to have joint custody.

chelle said...

Wow! That would be a frightful thought, losing one's children.

I look forward to reading the responses.

Sherry said...

This didn't really cross my mind before I married. I really didn't even know about it.

It isn't an issue in my life and probably never will be, but it is something I think that people considering marrying a Japanese person and living in Japan need to carefully consider. Yes, when you marry you are all in love and trust each other and all that. No one plans the divorce simultaneously while planning a wedding, do they? But stuff happens.

Personally, I think there are quite a few foreign women married to Japanese men who would be divorced if it weren't for this issue. I haven't read what is on the blog mentioned, but it is also important to know that Japan does nothing regarding parental abduction so if a Japanese parent takes off with the kid(s) the Japanese government and officials will do absolutely nothing about it. Foreign men who marry Japanese women seem to have problems with that more than foreign women do, but it happens.

Sherry said...

Sorry, wanted to add one thing more, my personal advice to anyone conidering marrying a Japanese man and living in Japan who is worried about this would be to get married, but if possible wait a few years before having kids to see if the marriage is going to work. Of course, once kids arrive things change - drastically- but I think waiting will give people a chance to build a solid marriage and work out any problems they might have before the kids arrive and you get a whole new set of problems, you know?

Just my 2 yens worth though. Take is with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you are not in the same country as your husband when the split occurs, how will he get custody...

Midori said...

Anonymous- The person who made the comment is not in a different country to her future husband from what I can gather. I also threw the question out to people with Japanese spouses, not just husbands because I think it effects all of us. As for being in a different country (I assume this was some kind of snidey remark about my current situation which I know you don`t approve of from your various comments, which I know come from the same IP address even if you choose to post anonymously) it isn`t as simple as that. I could quote several real life stories where people have tried to divorce their husbands/ wives after they took their kids back to their home country, only to end up as hunted fugitives (in one case I know of) and I also know of one recent case where a British judge ruled that the kids had to go back to Japan to live with their Japanese mother because their father had brought them here under what the judge deemed to be "false pretences". If you check out the link in the post, there are alot of other stories like that.

Nay said...

In regards to the above posts, I just want to let everyone know that I have been living in the same country as my fiance, but have just recently returned to Australia to finish my degree. My fiance and I are in a long distance relationship for the next year. However, I am returning to Japan every university holiday until I graduate. My fiance and I are planning on marrying once I graduate in June next year.

Midori said...

Hi Nay, Thanks for letting us know about your situation. I hope you don`t mind me using your post as a subject for discussion, am hoping you will get some helpful input/advice.

Sherry said...

Yes, Midori, you are exactly right. It doesn't matter where you are living when you get divorced if you were married in Japan and therefore subject to Japanese divorce laws and the Japanese family court.

Many countries, America and Britain for example, do take parental kidnappings very seriously and will force a parent to return a child to another country if said parent has not been awarded custody by whoever has jurisdiction over the case. Japan however will not force a Japanese parent to return a child to a foreign parent even if the divorce was handled in another country and the foreign parent is the one with official custody.

Also, some people have tried just returning to their home countries and not returning to Japan yet not filing for divorce - just taking an extended trip with the kids. In that case the Japanese spouse can actually go to city hall and file for divorce without the consent or knowledge of the foreign spouse. Then they can take the issue to the family court, get awarded custody, and then the foreign parent's country can force them to return the kids. A foreign parent who is planning such a "trip" needs to go to city hall and file a paper to block the Japanese spouse from divorcing them without their permission. It is all rather complicated and I am not sure what all the official forms and such are called, but if anyone reading this is thinking about such actions they need to really investigate it.


Although in theory the foreign parent is as likely to get custody as the Japanese parent, the truth of the matter is they almost never do unless they can work something out peacefully with their spouse. So really, legally foreign parents in Japan who need to get out of a marriage are screwed.

This is an extremely serious issue to consider and making flip and snide remarks about it because you simply don't agree with how someone else lives their life adds nothing to the conversation.

medea said...

I thought about this a lot before getting married. It is scary, and the stories on CRN Japan are frightening. I have been very lucky in my marriage, but I have seen enough of marriages in Japan and elsewhere to realize things do change over time and sometimes not for the better.

The reason I am not too concerned about the situation for myself is simply that my husband and his family (because it is rarely the Japanese father who raises kids in Japan) do not have the resources to abduct our son were something to happen. Marrying into a family with money/power seems very nice but in my case it is quite beneficial sometimes for me to be the one to have others dependent on me. My situation of course doesn't negate the fact that Japan's laws suck shit and are unbelievably against having happy post-divorce families. My husband hasn't seen his father since he was 5 and likely never will. Jaqan seems to want to take control and make sure international divroces are just as miserable as domestic ones.