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A group of judges has set the nation’s first public benchmark for calculating child support for children living with a divorced or unmarried parent, sources said Tuesday.

The nonbinding standard will be adopted by courts nationwide. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will make the standards known as public guidelines.

The judges from the high, district and family courts in Tokyo and Osaka derived the method for payments by parents without custody. It takes into account parental wages and the child’s age.

Until now, family courts have decided on child support payments on an individual basis, and there was no unified benchmark.

Low-income parents without custody were usually exempted from paying support. But the new standard calls for them to contribute.

For example, a salaried employee earning 2 million yen a year whose ex-wife makes the same amount would pay 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen a month for a child aged 14 or younger.

For a worker making 7 million yen a year with a former wife making 3 million yen, the support would be 40,000 yen to 60,000 yen a month for a child aged 14 or younger. For a child in the 15-19 age bracket, it would be 60,000 yen to 80,000 yen.

The welfare ministry will compile a manual on child support to be distributed to consultation facilities and local governments nationwide.

Around 90 percent of divorces in Japan are based on mutual consent. In many cases, couples break up without making a decision on child support.

According to a 1998 welfare ministry survey, only 20.8 percent of divorced women living with their children received child support from their former husbands.

The survey found that households where the mother is the only parent earn an average of around 2.3 million yen a year, about a third that of the average household.

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