International Child Abduction, Child Custody, and Visitations
Since this problem had developed into the diplomatic issue in Japan, the central authority of Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) actively support you to solve this problem. Therefore, rather than requesting a private investigation, you should first hire a Hague lawyer and file a petition for Hague Convention. We will explain the flow of specific procedures.
LBP = Left Behind Parent
TP = Taking Parent
Hague Convention: Hague Convention of Child Abduction
A Japanese wife abducted children from a local country to Japan without consent.
In international child abduction cases, an LBP can apply the petition of return of children to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs based on the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention (Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction)
LBPs can apply for the mediation of the Hague Convention to the central authority of their own countries (MOFA in Japan). Usually, LBPs hire lawyers in their own countries. Legal proceedings are also required in Japan for an LBP to negotiate with a TP. Ultimately, an LBP also needs to employ Japanese attorneys.
The Hague Convention of Child Abduction came into effect in Japan on April 1, 2014. It has been around for only a short period. Japanese lawyers are supposed to negotiate with the other party (the Japanese TP) and control a foreign client (the LBP) as well. There are only a handful Japanese lawyers who can handle this area properly.
The legal advisor for Japan’s PI (Ms. Masako Banno, Attorney At Law) handled the case where an American LBP requested a Japanese TP to return a child. For the first time in Japan, she acquired a mandatory judgment in both Japan and the United States and succeeded in returning the child to the LBP.
These projects often come to Japan with this flow: Local central authority → Japanese foreign ministry → Japanese lawyers (The Attorney Referral System of Japanese Bar Association). At Japan PI, we can refer a Hague attorney directly to shorten legal procedures on the Japanese side.
A Japanese wife brought her child back to Japan with permission, but she cut out the communication later.
If the LBP agrees to return to TP permanently, the Hague Convention does not apply. The Hague Convention kicks in depending on the consent. For example, even though the LBP concurs that the LBP can take the child away only for one month, the TP stays in Japan for more than a month. In this case, it is deemed as an abduction (retention) when the return date has passed the first scheduled date.
Also, if the TP stops visitations, the LBP can file a petition of visitations and contacts (different from the return of child) based on the Hague Convention.
The ADR of Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also available for the LBP. The LBP can also use the conciliation (adjudication) of the Tokyo or Osaka District Court afterward. It is also possible for LBP to make a trial proceeding directly without going through ADR of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Apply Hague Convention of International Child Abduction
In court proceedings of a petition for return of the child, you must be knowledgeable about the legal systems. So, you should hire a lawyer. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the central authority in Japan) will assist you to find an attorney.
Hague Convention Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Address: 2-2-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8919, Japan
When you don’t know the whereabouts of your child, you should first file an application with the MOFA for assistance in child’s return. You should file the petition for return of child after the whereabouts of the child is located.
File a Petition for the Return of Child under the Hague Convention http://www.courts.go.jp/osaka/vcms_lf/ofc_B01.pdf
Use a Conciliation in a Case on the Order for the Return of Child http://www.courts.go.jp/osaka/vcms_lf/ofc_C01.pdf
File a Petition for Conciliation (Adjudication) for Visitation or Contacts under the Hague Convention
Locate the TP and taken children
If there is a child of school age, the TP usually files the resident registration for the child’s school. In this case, attorneys can get access to the government records and find out their current address. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs can also conduct procedures to identify the location of the taken child and TP. This process starts the ADR of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the trial proceedings of the district court.
If you are involved in a conflict of child custody and visitations and need to collect evidence of abuse, neglect, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental disease, and gambling, Japan PI is at your service to obtain such evidence.
Even if the TP claims there was a DV and is in the DV shelter with a child, the LBP can still apply a petition for the location service from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will determine if there was DV in the investigation process. For example, if the TP has not applied for the Assistance Measure On The Basic Resident Register for DV Victims or the description of DV by the TP is unnatural, they will report the whereabouts of the TP and the child to the LBP.
In any case, an LBP should sign up for a location investigation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the US, parental child abduction is a crime. Japan has been ignoring it for a long time, which was the target of severe criticism from other countries. Therefore, MOFA must take the side of LBPs aggressively. Also, courts are positively assisting the return of children to LBPs.
In addition, a free translation aide for legal procedures is available with MOFA. The rate for a translation company for legal proceedings could cost as much as US$2,000.00 or US$3,000.00. But MOFA can take care of the price for LBPs.
Referral Service of Hague Attorneys in Japan
In the Hague project, lawyers need to carry out a significant amount of work in a short period of time. Japan PI can refer the most appropriate lawyer for the period through our multiple partnerships with bilingual attorneys.
Japan PI can conduct child investigations to collect evidence of abuse, neglect, or any other information about a harmful environment of the other party for child custody or visitation disputes, which are outside the criteria of the Hague Convention. We can also locate the whereabouts of the children and record their visuals. We have extensive experience in carrying out child investigations under the supervision of family law attorneys.