Japan: Husband ordered to pay wife 1 mil. yen each time he refuses child visitation rights


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The Tokyo Family Court has granted a woman’s petition for her estranged husband to pay her 1 million yen each time he refuses her visitation rights to see their daughter, an extraordinarily high amount for such a case, it has been learned.

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The woman — a foreign national — filed for an indirect compulsory execution with the court after her Japanese husband refused to allow her to see their eldest daughter once a month for five hours as granted by a court. An attorney representing the woman praised the ruling, calling it “an epoch-making decision.”

The husband, who has been living with the daughter since he was separated from his wife in 2011, has appealed the ruling to the Tokyo High Court, with his attorney saying, “The amount of money lacks common sense.”

According to the decision handed down by the Tokyo Family Court on Oct. 4 last year and other information, the husband — who is in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife — withdrew their then 7-year-old daughter from her elementary school after he left the family’s home in 2011, and transferred the girl to another school. He withheld his new address from his wife, and the woman filed for visitation rights with the family court.

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The husband dismissed the wife’s visitation request, saying, “There is a risk of my daughter being taken away to a foreign country,” by citing instances such as his wife locating and visiting their daughter’s new school, but the family court granted the wife monthly visitation rights in December 2015. The Tokyo High Court also upheld the ruling, finalizing the decision. However, the husband refused to follow the court decision, and the wife filed for an indirect compulsory execution of the order.

In handing down the Oct. 4, 2016 ruling, judge Tetsuo Tanahashi of the Tokyo Family Court said, “The husband has repeated the same argument for his refusal of visitation that has already been dismissed by the court. We can no longer expect him to comply with visitation voluntarily, and visitation rights need to be ensured through indirect compulsory execution.” The court decided to charge the husband 1 million yen per refusal of his wife’s visitation requests based on his income and other factors. The husband eventually complied with visitation request, allowing his wife to see their daughter for the first time in five years.

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After the Supreme Court granted an indirect compulsory execution over a refusal of visitation rights in 2013, other courts followed suit, with the accused party charged around 50,000 yen to 100,000 yen per refusal. Still, some parents choose to pay to keep their estranged spouses from meeting their children.

Takao Tanase, a lawyer representing the wife, commented, “The court took a resolute attitude toward the husband’s disregard for the court decision, which ruled that the wife should be allowed to see their daughter for the sake of the child.”

Some experts have raised questions over the forcible execution of visitation rights through the power of money. An attorney for the husband said, “The husband couldn’t comply with visitation request out of fear of his daughter being abducted. The amount charged lacks common sense.”

 

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