When divorcing under Japanese family law, only one parent has parental rights.
This is called “sole parental rights”.
It means that one party loses their parental rights in a divorce, even though there were two parents before divorce. (The mother and father jointly hold the parental rights during the marriage.)
There is much criticism of this system both in other countries and in Japan. The situation has arrived at a stage where we personally feel that the legal system must be re-examined, but the current system will be described here.
Because Japanese family law system has a sole parental rights system after divorce, when a divorcing couple has minor children, one parent must be designated as having the parental rights for the divorce to take effect.
It is acceptable if the husband and wife can decide this by discussing it themselves, but it is a problem when they cannot. In these cases, mediation, divorce by trial (lawsuit) or family court adjudication (shinn-pann) will be used to decide who should have the parental rights. Mediation is a process for reaching agreement, but if such agreement is impossible, the decision is made by the court in the cases of divorce trial or adjudication especially initiated for
determination of parental rights.