http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120914003660.htm

 

Child care left undecided in divorces

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Less than 50 percent of divorcing couples have planned for such matters as child support and visitation rights since the revised Civil Code was implemented in April, which requires couples with small children to do so, according to the Justice Ministry.

As local governments accept divorce applications without making couples declare such arrangements, the effectiveness of the revision has often been questioned.

The ministry collected its first statistics on the issue during the first quarter since the revision came into force. The results reflect the difficulty couples face in reaching an agreement on child-related matters.

In tandem with the implementation of the revised code, the ministry in April added items to the divorce application form asking couples with young children to verify they have come to an accord on certain issues. This includes whether they have agreed on visitation arrangements for the noncustodial parent and how child support will be handled.

According to the ministry, 32,757 couples with young children mutually consented to file for divorce from April to June. Among them, 15,622, or 48 percent, indicated they had made arrangements regarding visitation for the noncustodial parent, and 6,843, or 21 percent, had not. The remaining 31 percent did not check any boxes.

Concerning payment of child support by noncustodial parents, 16,075 couples, or 49 percent, had made a decision on the matter, while 6,316, or 19 percent, had not. The other 32 percent left the boxes blank.

In 2011, about 235,700 couples got divorced, with about 90 percent of them doing so by mutual consent. Still, there have been many problems concerning the handling of these child-related matters after divorce.

“It’s necessary for couples to reach an accord [on such matters] for their children’s sake,” said Noriko Mizuno, a Civil Code professor at Tohoku University.

“In Western countries and South Korea, couples are not allowed to get divorced unless they agree on a plan to raise their children and the plan is approved by the court. In Japan, it’s not sufficient to simply check whether parents have come to an agreement on such matters. We must also create a system to verify their decisions really serve the best interests of the child and enforce them if so.”

(Sep. 15, 2012)
An attorney who works closely with Children’s Rights Council of Japan, and who himself has had his children abducted to Japan, has noted that under Tennessee law parents must agree on a new visitation schedule, costs, and other relevant factors before a party may relocate with children. 
Tennessee statute further states that if the proposed move is to a foreign country whose public policy does not normally enforce visitation rights of non-custodial parents or which otherwise presents a substantial risk of specific and serious harm to a child is involved the relocation would be deemed as not having a reasonable purpose and would be disallowed.  (see Tennessee Code Unannotated 36-6-108)
This second clause as described above is the case we face with Japan.  Japan does not enforce visitation rights and in fact the culture encourages the total separation of parent and child after divorce.
Judge Jim Martin, after presented with OVERWHELMING evidence that Japan would not “participate” in any solution if things went wrong for visits and ignoring the evidence in the case, used his discretion and allowed the visit.  There is a possible conflict-of-interests here since the judge was previously a mediator in the case!  Granted, this was not a relocation case BUT anytime a court considers visits to a Non-Hague country extra caution should be taken.
Texas, California and Utah have enacted similar statutes to protect kids and they go as far to include temporary visits such as was originally proposed in this case.