English Home > Lawyer's Page >
Last update 2011.2.23

US/Japan divorce and property

H. Kawarazaki, esq.
I am an American woman married to a Japanese man for 14 years. I lived in Japan until August 1998, then left my husband and moved to the US with my two children.
I have asked my husband for a divorce, but he is very passive-- he doesn't want a divorce.
I can legally apply for a divorce in San Francisco because I have lived here for one year.
Our marriage was registered at the Japanese Ward Office when we married in 1984.
I have a few questions:
  1. Is a San Francisco divorce legally valid in Japan?
  2. Are custody agreements enforceable across US/Japanese borders?
  3. We have an expensive, large, jointly-owned home in Japan (I worked for our whole marriage and contributed 1/2 financially) the house is registered in both names, the land only in his name. He does not want to sell this house, but doesn't have any cash to give my my share. We had almost no savings. He is, however, providing child support. How do we work out the house details?
  4. When I left, I took only the children and a few personal belongings-- he has the furniture, cars, appliances, etc. The market to sell the house is bad in Japan right now. I don't mind him keeping the house if he can give me some money, or if we can have an agreement for him to sell the house in a few years, or if he can write up a Will so that even if we divorce, the house still comes to me and my children upon his death. Any advice you can send me is appreciated
  1. San Francisco Divorce Judgement is valid in the condition that San Francisco court has jurisdiction and defendant is legally summoned. Summons must be in obedience to the Civilprocedure Treaty. For example summons must be attached by Japanese translation.
  2. Custody agreements is enforceable, perhaps.
  3. 2 procedures you must take; Divorce action and action of dividing house and of asking your share of land.
  4. If you want to marry some one in US, I understand your wanting divorce. But if you do not, you are financially well without divorce. Now you can ask spousal support and inherit his property at the time of his death. After divorce you don't, you can ask only child support.
    In Japan house is cheap and land is expensive. When you get San Francisco divorce, perhaps you can ask your share of the land within 2 years.
    I recommend you to bring action against him to ask your share of the land.
    In Japan he can change will legally any time. I recommnend you only contract on your house and land.

Since 1999.9.11