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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 March 13 - 19  > JCP Motomura opposes hasty introduction of post-divorce ‘joint custody’
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2024 March 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP Motomura opposes hasty introduction of post-divorce ‘joint custody’

March 15, 2024
Japanese Communist Party representative Motomura Nobuko on March 14 criticized the hasty introduction of a system on post-divorce “joint custody” under discussion.

On this day, the House of Representatives at its plenary session began deliberations on a draft revision of the Civil Code to introduce joint custody after divorce.

The proposed revision includes a provision in which parents at the time of divorce will decide whether “sole custody”, which is the current system, or “joint custody” after mutual consultation. If agreement cannot be reached, then a family court will determine what to do about custody.

Motomura from the rostrum expressed her opposition to the fast-and-sloppy revision, She said, “Creation of a national consensus through careful and thorough discussions is necessary.”

The most affected by divorce are children. Regarding the upbringing of children after divorce, even under the existing law (Civil Code Article 766), if there is a cooperative relationship between the parents, they can jointly conduct visitation and share childcare expenses. The article stipulates, “If parents divorce by agreement, the issues that need to be determined in connection with child custody, such as who will have custody over the child, visitation and other contact between the father or mother and the child, and the sharing of expenses that custody of the child requires, are determined in that agreement.”

Momura expressed concern, saying, “If parents divorce because of a loss of trust, joint custody would undermine, rather than protect, the safety of children.”

Under the proposed revision, in the case of joint custody, decisions regarding children’s medical care, relocation, and higher education cannot be solely made. The agreement of the ex-spouse is required. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, they have to seek a family court judgement each time. However, the failure to reach a quick decision on children’s critical matters, such as emergency medical care, could be life-threatening. In addition, prolonged and frequent quarrels even after divorce will give their children undue stress.

What is more, the proposed revision is totally inadequate in dealing with cases of domestic violence and child abuse. In that case, a family court will determine sole custody, according to the proposed revision. However, Motomura pointed out the “difficulty in proving DV cases and non-physical types of abuse.”

On top of that, the proposed revision does not include a provision specifying respect for children’s opinion and will. Motomura demanded that custody be centered on the rights and welfare of the child, adding, “It is essential to guarantee children’s right to express their opinions, and this right should be clearly stated in the Civil Code if it is to be revised.”
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