Symposium for Children’s Happiness after Divorce: Visitation and Child Support
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) held a Symposium for Children’s Happiness after Divorce on May 15, 2010 in Tokyo.
In the opening remarks, it was explained that this symposium aimed to discuss how to better secure visitation and child support, taking into account cases involving domestic violence (DV) as well as gender equality perspectives.
Following the opening remarks, Professor Masayuki Tanamura (Waseda University) gave a speech in which he mentioned that Japan lacked the viewpoint of shared parental rights and child-raising responsibilities after divorce and did not have a system of representation for children in order to reflect individual children’s points of view and willingness to reside with either parent. He also pointed out that in many foreign countries, parental rights and custody were shared by both parents after their divorce and that there were systems for representing children and for enforcing child support deductions from the obligor’s wages.
Ms. Yoko Yoshida (JFBA member) reported that a higher poverty rate was seen in mother-child families in Japan while many other countries had introduced fundamental systems to ensure that both parents were able to maintain equal economic and social relations before and after divorce with failure to pay child support being subject to possible criminal charges.
The French system was presented, as an example of a foreign system under which courts were involved in all cases of divorce, there were visitation centers for those experiencing visitation problems, and the tax authorities collected unpaid child support on a mandatory basis.
In the following panel discussion, Professor Tamie Kaino (Vice President, Ochanomizu University), Professor Tanamura, Ms. Hisako Watanabe (Chief Doctor, Children’s Outpatient Clinic, Keio University Hospital), and Ms. Shiho Kawashima (JFBA member) in their roles as panelists, conducted a discussions on the various issues surrounding visitation and child support. They pointed out that for DV cases, the visitation of any parent with a history of causing DV would greatly affect the child, and that it was necessary to consider whether or not the visitation of the parent should be allowed by taking account of the nature of DV cases and by placing the first priority on the child’s rights.
At the end of the symposium, it was pointed out that realizing a gender-free society was essential in order to bring about fundamental resolutions to these problems, and the establishment of the following was recommended:
1. A process to alleviate conflicts between parents from the standpoint of children’s welfare,
2. A support system for visitation, and
3. Measures to ensure payment of child support and an improvement in the amount of child support provided to an appropriate level.