About a month ago, I agreed to a divorce, and handed my Japanese wife the signed divorce registration form. Now I feel that we ought to take our time and think about it more before we reach a decision. What would happen if my wife submitted the divorce registration form to the ward office? Would I be able to stop the divorce? And if my wife were to hand in the divorce registration without my knowledge, could the divorce be rendered void?
Divorce registration (rikon todoke / 離婚届) is submitted when both parties are in mutual agreement over their decision to divorce. When submitting the divorce registration, it is necessary for both parties to be willing to divorce.
As long as there are no discrepancies in the details as written on the form or the appended documents, and the content of the form adheres to the standard format, it seems that the registration will be accepted (juri / 受理) at municipal offices. Once the registration form is accepted, there is no system for retraction, and the registration is considered valid.
If a divorce registration is accepted but one party was not willing to divorce at the time of registration, one can petition the family court (katei saibansho / 家庭裁判所) to have the divorce annulled in accordance with the law. For more information on the procedure, what petitioning the court involves (arbitration, judgment, personal status litigation) and so on, you will need to consult a lawyer.
If one party is a Japanese national (or both), and provided that a divorce registration has not yet been submitted, one can submit a request of non-acceptance of divorce registration (rikon todoke fu-juri mōshidesho / 離婚届不受理申出書) to the mayor of your municipality to prevent a divorce registration being accepted without the agreement of one party.
On the other hand, when a divorce registration is accepted but the confirmation of one party cannot be obtained, the mayor of the accepting municipality is to notify that party that a divorce registration has been submitted and accepted.
Finally, divorce procedures vary from country to country, and the laws of other countries on this issue can differ from that of Japan. Even if, during your period of residence in Japan, your divorce registration is accepted as being in accordance with Japanese law, it may still not meet the legal requirements of your own country. You will need to look up acceptable ways to obtain a divorce in your own country, and follow the recognized procedure to ensure your divorce also meets the requirements there.
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