Japanese and American Divorce
When Japanese and American nationals divorce, Japanese law applies if one spouse has permanent residence in Japan. If either spouse is Japanese and registered as a resident in Japan, Japanese law applies. Most couples residing in Japan and seeking divorce will be subject to Japanese law. However, exceptions apply for those living outside Japan.
Divorce Methods in Japan and the US
If Japanese law applies, divorce methods include consensual, mediated, adjudicated, and court divorces. Whether a Japanese divorce is valid in the US depends on the laws of the respective state. In the US, there is no system for consensual divorce (agreeing and submitting a divorce notification), and all divorces are handled in court. State laws vary in terms of valid divorce methods and requirements, custody, child support, and marital property.
Many US states may not recognize Japanese consensual divorce, necessitating mediation or court divorce. It’s recommended to consult a lawyer or expert beforehand.
Divorce for US Military Personnel
For divorces involving US military personnel stationed in Japan, there are unique rules regarding financial support for spouses and children. Consult the Legal Office for advice.
Reporting Divorce in the US (for divorces in Japan)
When American and Japanese nationals living in Japan divorce, Japanese law applies. The divorce process is the same as for Japanese couples, and there’s no need to report the divorce to the embassy or consulate. However, whether the divorce is valid in the US depends on state law. Consult a lawyer and follow the appropriate divorce method and procedures for each state.
Reference: Basic Procedure for Filing a Divorce Notification in the US
Divorce requirements, costs, duration, and complexity vary among the 50 US states. Typically, a lawyer practicing in the state handles the divorce proceedings. After the divorce is finalized, submit the divorce decree to the Japanese embassy, consulate, or local municipality office. If one party is a foreign national, the divorce must be finalized in a foreign court and the notification must be filed within 3 months. If this period is exceeded, a late submission reason must be provided.
The Japanese spouse’s family register will then reflect the divorce.
Post-divorce Residence Status
After divorcing a Japanese national, an American cannot maintain their current spouse-based residence status. They must obtain permission to change to a permanent resident, skilled labor, or managerial visa. Feel free to inquire about changing residence status after divorcing a Japanese national.