New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan

Getting divorced in Japan

The following is a general guide for New Zealand citizens intending to divorce in Japan.

There are two ways to process a divorce where one or both parties reside in Japan:

  1. Submit a divorce application signed by both parties to the local city office, if both parties are agreeable to the divorce and there are no disputes such as over child custody or maintenance (alimony) settlements.
  2. Apply for a divorce through a Japanese family court. This process is necessary if there are disputes such as over child custody or maintenance settlements.  Where one party is not resident in Japan, whether the case will be processed by the Japanese family court is up to the court.  Family lawyers are able to provide legal guidance and advice on these matters.

There is no requirement to report your divorce to the New Zealand Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. A Japanese divorce certificate issued by the local city office is, when translated, accepted in New Zealand as evidence of the divorce.

To enable you to complete divorce procedures with Japanese authorities, whether by mutual agreement at a city office or through a family court, you may be asked to produce Section 44 of the New Zealand Family Proceedings Act 1980 which deals with the matter of recognising a divorce or marriage dissolution outside of New Zealand.

Following the registration of a divorce in Japan, a Divorce Registration Certificate (rikon juri shoumei-sho) is issued on request by the local city office as a record of the divorce. When one party is Japanese, the divorce is recorded in the Family Register (koseki touhon/shouhon). New Zealand citizens may wish to consider obtaining additional copies of the Divorce Registration Certificate and/or the Japanese partner's Family Register as evidence of the divorce and have these documents translated, for future use in New Zealand or elsewhere. The Translation Service of the Department of Internal Affairs is able to provide translations.

To process a divorce in New Zealand, see the New Zealand Department of Courts website.

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