What is consolation money in a divorce in Japan?
About one in three Japanese marriages end in divorce, four times the divorce rate in Japan in the 1950s and double the rate in the 1970s. In some cases, when a spouse causes a divorce in Japan, they are required to pay consolation money. Consolation money is compensation for the breakdown of the relationship. If you’re currently dealing with or anticipating a divorce in Japan, it would be wise to read this article first so you are prepared and knowledgeable about consolation money payment and if you would be required to pay it.
Who has to pay consolation money?
If a spouse caused a reason for the divorce, then they should pay consolation money to the other spouse. Infidelity is one example of a cause/reason for divorce. According to Article 710 of the Japanese Civil Code: Persons liable for damages… must also compensate for damages other than those to property, regardless of whether the body, liberty or reputation of others have been infringed, or property rights of others have been infringed.
Causes for unilateral divorce
Unilateral divorce means one spouse decides to file for divorce without obtaining the consent of their partner. When a unilateral divorce takes place, this gives rise to the possibility of consolation money payments since the spouse filing for divorce takes the responsibility for breaking down the marriage.
According to Article 770.1 of the Japanese Civil Code, some possible causes for unilateral divorce include:
(1) Infidelity of a spouse,
(2) Malicious abandonment by a spouse,
(3) Uncertainty as to whether the spouse is alive or not for more than three years,
(4) Serious mental illness of a spouse with no possibility of recovery, or
(5) Grave grounds which make a marriage unable to continue (e.g., family violence).
How much do you have to pay, and when?
The amount of consolation money in a divorce in Japan varies depending upon the cases, and can vary depending on your divorce lawyer. However, the amount is usually small in most cases, for example, a few million yen. If the defendant lacks financial means, this amount can be even smaller. You must file the demand for consolation money payment no later than three years after the divorce took place.
Contact an English-speaking lawyer
The facts presented in this article are meant as a jumping-off point, but every divorce is different and requires the care of a professional. If you are facing an impending divorce or currently in the process of divorce and foresee having to pay consolation money in the future, it is strongly advised to contact an English-speaking lawyer to help you navigate the intricacies of divorce in Japan.
Call 03-6868-8647 for a consultation, or contact us through our online contact form.
This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice. For advice from a lawyer, please call the number listed above.