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Justice panel drafts rules to facilitate child custody exchanges

JIJI

The Justice Ministry’s legislative council subcommittee on Friday drafted rules to facilitate child custody exchanges between divorced parents, including greater power for enforcement officers.

The panel compiled the draft in response to several cases in which custody exchanges did not succeed due to uncooperative parents who lost guardianship rights.

In 2017, handovers took place in only 35 of the 106 cases where such requests were filed, according to the Supreme Court.

Enforcement officers acting on court orders have little recourse when parents stripped of custody rights refuse to cooperate, sources familiar with the matter said.

After the panel’s rules are submitted to the justice minister, the government plans to present a bill to revise the law to the extraordinary Diet session expected to be convened in the fall.

There is no legal provision to force parents who are divorced or separated to handover children. Children are handed back to enforcement officers in the presence of the parent who lost custody but is living with them.

The rules call for giving more power to enforcement officers and allowing handovers to take place only in the presence of parents with custody rights, on condition sufficient consideration is paid to the sentiment of the children.

To help, the panel also called a legal revision to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is used to settle cross-border custody disputes arising from breakups of international marriages.