Options for New Zealand citizens to process a divorce with the Japanese authorities depend on the nationality of the other party:
New Zealand citizen married to a Japanese citizen
There are two ways to process a divorce where one or both of the parties resides in Japan:
- Submit a divorce application signed by both parties to the local city office, if both parties are agreeable to the divorce and there are no disputes such as over child custody or maintenance settlements.
- Apply for a divorce through a Japanese family court. This process is necessary if there are disputes such as over child custody or maintenance settlements. Where one party is not resident in Japan, whether or not the case will be processed by the court will be assessed by the court on a case by case basis. Family lawyers are able to provide legal guidance and advice on these matters.
New Zealand citizen married to another New Zealand citizen or other non-Japanese citizen
- Apply for a divorce through a Japanese family court. Where accepted for processing, the divorce laws of the married parties’ respective countries will be referred to. Family lawyers are able to provide legal guidance and advice on these matters.
To enable you to complete divorce procedures with the Japanese authorities you may be asked to produce Section 44 of the New Zealand Family Proceedings Act 1980 which deals with the matter of recognising a divorce or marriage dissolution outside of New Zealand. A Japanese translation of Section 44 (PDF format) prepared by the Embassy is available in the Documents section at the bottom of this page.
Following the registration of a divorce in Japan, a divorce registration certificate (rikon juri shoumei-sho) is issued on request by the local city office as a record of the divorce. Where the other party is a Japanese citizen, the divorce is recorded in his/her family register (koseki touhon/shouhon). New Zealand citizens may wish to consider obtaining additional copies of the divorce registration certificate, and/or the Japanese partner's family register, as evidence of the divorce and have these documents translated for future use in New Zealand or elsewhere. The Translation Service(external link) of the Department of Internal Affairs is able to provide translations.
There is no requirement to report a divorce processed by the Japanese authorities to the New Zealand Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. A Japanese divorce certificate, when translated, will be accepted in New Zealand as evidence of the divorce.
For more information about divorce in Japan, see the Japan Ministry of Justice(external link) website.
To process a divorce in New Zealand, see the New Zealand Department of Courts(external link) website.