The Justice Ministry issued a notice Monday to address public discontent over a controversial Civil Code provision that regards a baby born within 300 days after the mother’s divorce as a child born to her and her former spouse even if the father is another man.
Under the notice, to be applied for birth registrations submitted from May 21, a child who has a doctor’s certificate showing the mother became pregnant after she got divorced will be accepted as the child of the woman and her current husband, or as an out-of-wedlock baby.
The move comes amid growing demand to review the 300-day provision, which requires parents to go to court to get their child registered properly. Some couples who had babies have decided to leave their children out of the family registry rather than have them registered under the former husband’s name.
But the notice will not apply to cases in which a child is born to a woman who got pregnant before divorce because talks with her husband were prolonged, for example, and will help only about 10 percent of the children affected by the 300-day provision, which the ministry estimates at nearly 3,000 each year.
Citizens’ groups say the notice will not improve the flaws of the system.
Masae Ido, a representative of a group supporting parents having problems with the Civil Code, said: “The notice will not help 90 percent of the children. I want cases of pregnancy before divorce also to be dealt with.”
The Justice Ministry, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, New Komeito, will continue looking at ways to let a woman who became pregnant before her divorce to have her baby recognized as one between her and her current husband by referring to past court examples. They will also try to find ways to reduce the financial burden of court costs for such cases.
The ministry notice says parents who want to have a child registered as the current husband’s should have a doctor draw up a certification that shows the estimated period when the mother became pregnant.
The parents should submit the certification to their municipal government, which should accept it only when the beginning of the mother’s estimated pregnancy follows the date of her divorce.
A project team of the ruling parties considered introducing a bill to the Diet that would address cases of pregnancy before divorce by using DNA testing. But it has decided to consider other ways after conservative forces within the LDP put up strong opposition.
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