Guaranteeing visitation with children after divorce - a multipartisan draft bill to be submitted next year

Guaranteeing visitation with children after divorce - a multipartisan draft bill to be submitted next year (Sankei Newspaper, October 29, 2010, author unknown)

 On April 28, it was learned that Diet members from the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, and other parties are working on a bipartisan bill to guarantee that parents without parental rights will be able to visit their children after divorce, with the aim of submitting it to the ordinary Diet session next year. In recent years, it has become a social problem for mothers to refuse contact with their children after divorce, taking advantage of the Spousal Violence (DV) Prevention Law, which prohibits mothers from stalking their children.

 About 20 members of the ruling and opposition parties participated in the drafting of the bill. About 20 members of the ruling and opposition parties are involved in the drafting of the bill, and are discussing ways to solve the problem of children being taken away by one parent and separated by the other parent. In the future, they will consider specific penalties and aim to have the law passed by the Diet.

 According to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of children whose parents have divorced was about 249,000 in 2009, nearly three times the 89,000 children 40 years ago.

 Japan’s Civil Code provides for “sole custody,” which gives custody to only one parent, rather than “joint custody,” which is the mainstream in Western countries.

 In the event of a divorce, about 80% of the custody goes to the mother, but recently there has been a growing desire among fathers, especially those who are actively involved in child rearing, to have contact with their children even after the divorce.

 In one case, a father who attempted to bring his own child back from his divorced wife was arrested on charges of kidnapping a minor. One man who experienced a custody battle pointed out, “Many fathers are denied by the authority of the custodial parent even when they ask for visitation with their children.

 However, since there are concerns about violence and abuse by fathers as reasons for mothers taking their children away or fathers refusing contact with their children, the new bill is expected to include these measures.

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