National

Japan revises guidelines for child support payments

JIJI

A Supreme Court institution has released a revised version of its guidelines for determining the value of child support that are used widely in divorce lawsuits in Japan.

The revision to the guidelines, made based on taxation system changes and other factors, was the first in 16 years.

The value of monthly child support may increase by some ¥10,000 to ¥20,000 depending on the parents’ income levels under the new standards, released by the court’s Legal Training and Research Institute of Japan.

The guidelines classify children into two groups — those up to 14 years old and those 15 years old or older — and show the recommended amount of child support based on the number of children and the income of their parents.

The revised guidelines, for example, call on a noncustodial parent with an annual income of ¥5 million to pay between ¥40,000 and ¥60,000 monthly to a parent who raises a 14-year-old child and earns ¥2 million in income annually. That range of monthly child support payments is higher than the ¥20,000 to ¥40,000 seen under the old guidelines.

The payment range is unchanged at ¥20,000 to ¥40,000 monthly for a noncustodial parent earning ¥4 million annually.

The institute asked four judges at Tokyo and Osaka family courts to revise the guidelines, which are aimed at making the calculation of child support easier.

The release of the revised guidelines is not intended to change the value of child support in cases that have already been decided, the institute said.

The previous guidelines were published in April 2003 in a legal magazine by a voluntary group comprising judges.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has criticized the old guidelines, claiming that the recommended amount of child support was too low as it did not even meet the lowest standard of living.

According to a welfare ministry survey in fiscal 2016, the child support received by a single mother stood at around ¥43,000 a month on average. Although some 42 percent of divorced parents agreed on child support payments when they separated, payments were not made in many cases, the survey showed.

In the survey, only 24 percent of divorced parents said they were currently receiving child support payments.

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