National / Crime & Legal

Japan's Supreme Court rejects man's damages claim against ex-wife's partner over adultery

JIJI

The Supreme Court Tuesday rejected a damages claim brought by a man in his 40s against his former spouse’s then-lover, infidelity with whom led, he claimed, to he and his wife’s divorce.

At the top court’s Third Petty Bench, presiding Judge Yuko Miyazaki said that it is impossible to demand, without special circumstances, that a divorced spouse’s then-extramarital partner pay damages for mental pain from the divorce.

The ruling does not affect the right to claim damages against a spouse and his or her lover over infidelity itself within three years after detecting the affair.

In the case, the man living in eastern Kanto filed a ¥4.95 million damages claim in 2015 against his former wife’s partner in an adulterous relationship.

The couple, with two children, divorced earlier that year after the wife’s affair came to light in 2010.

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision ordering the extra-marital partner to pay ¥1.98 million in damages.

The highest court ruled that whether to divorce is essentially a matter between a married couple, and that the adulterous partner should not bear direct responsibility for the couple’s breakup.

However, the court noted that it is possible to claim damages against such a partner who has intervened in a married couple’s relationship with the aim of causing them to divorce.