What is divorce by family court decision (saiban rikon) (divorce ordered by a court) ?

First, in Japan, a party may not arbitrarily initiate a divorce by trial. The parties must first attempt to agree by mediation. This is called the mediation-first principle. A reason for the divorce is required for a divorce by trial. Article 770, Section 1 of the Civil Code of Japan sets forth the cases in which divorce by trial is possible (reasons for divorce).
The acceptable reasons for divorce by trial are listed below.
・Malicious abandonment
・Whereabouts unknown for 3 years or more
・Serious mental illness
・Another serious reason that the marriage should not be continued
Furthermore, according to the law, if after a thorough review of all circumstances, the court finds that the marriage should be continued, the court can dismiss the divorce petition even if the parties want to divorce. Reading the law alone, it appears that a judge may decide not to permit a divorce when considering all of the circumstances, even though both parties want to divorce. However, there are virtually no actual cases of judges prohibiting divorces when both parties want to divorce. Japanese divorce procedure respects the will of the parties on the matter of divorce.

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