Japan and Child Support

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Last year I paid 500,000 yen to my wife for child support (she acknowledges this too). In return, my own mother received a handful of photos of our son, on one occasion. During the year, my family have asked my wife for information and photos of my son, but my wife has not responded at all (apart from that one occasion).

So this year, I have with-held payments and approached my wife through a lawyer in order to strike a bargain with her. Initially she agreed to send news and photos of my son in return for child maintenance. Our condition was that she got the ball rolling and send news/photos first (because of the lack of trust she has engendered by NOT holding her end of the bargain up last year). On receipt of this, I would send payments. This would happen monthly. After a few months, I would send money 3 months in advance (as it's a little burdensome to send money internationally once a month). Not only would this be good financially for my son and his mother, but I would be very happy to learn of my son's life. And also:- with this element of trust being built up, it would be possible to move on from there and organize visitation schedules (long term view). Surely, all good for everybody?

Unfortuanately, she still has sent nothing (it's now a month later). I can certainly afford to pay child maintenance, but I don't want to be in a situation where I have absolutely no bargaining power in terms of access or news about my son. It was evident last year when I regularly sent money while my wife didn't reciprocate with news or photos of my son. It takes me 1 week to earn the child support I send each month, but I have no problem with the level of payment. I know for a fact that my wife has a PC, an internet connection and a digital camera at her parent's house where she resides. It would take her 30 minutes at the most to send an e-mail with news and photos of my son. That's 30 minutes per month to hold up her end of the bargain. I don't know why she doesn't do this....but I do know she is often unwilling to compromise, even if the compromise will benefit her, as well as everybody else. I can't see the logic in that.

It's very sad that I have to resort to this (withholding money to try and force my wife to co-operate), but the law is not interested in my rights as a father. Yes, I've already tried legal channels. How can I send child support when I don't even know the state of my son, whether he is alive or not? Of course there is the added doubt that this money will not be spent on my son, since I have absolutely no control over the money once it is wired half way around the world. However, I will forgo these doubts if I have some information about my son, and photos. In photos, I can see his eyes, and I can see his toys, his clothes, his health. I would like to see photos of him at his nursery and in his home. I would like to read words about him, what he is doing, what he is saying, what his likes and dislikes are. All this builds up a picture of him.

Ultimately, If he has problems, what good does it do to shut out a loving father that is more than willing to help him if he can? This is the biggest injustice my son has.

What is better for a small boy? What is better for a father? What is better for a mother? Choose from the following:-

1. Son has no idea of who his father is. Father completely shut out of son's life. Mother struggles financially, and deals with problems on her own. Father grieves over complete loss of son, has no idea of son's health or situation. Son inevitably builds up resentment toward father as he grows up (only natural).

2. Father is kept up-to-date of son's life through news/photos. Father is very happy to contribute to son's life at the very least financially (with schedule to visit son regularly). Mother doesn't struggle financially to bring up son. Father and son have some kind of relationship - both father and son at least can put aside the grief that permanent disconnection brings.

3. Father contributes financially but never knows anything about son. Has no idea of where the money goes. Son never knows anything about father (possibly only negative things from mother). Son is more financially secure than option 1) (providing mother actually does spend this child support on the child), but has the emotional problems of 1). Father also has emotional problems of 1). Mother clearly benefits more than father and child.

I can't see any better choice than 2 as it benefits everybody.

(thanks to JC for helping me edit this post! :-) )


Edited 03/06/2004 23:28:40
Posted By:
Andrew
03/06/2004
Order:
japchap (48 posts)
03/06/2004 17:19:59
re: Japan and Child Support   profile
Andrew, I really appreciated your insight and well-summarized thoughts on (1), (2), and (3).

I feel that part of the big problem is that in Japan, since we have already learned and established that child visitation rights are not enforceable, the estranged and ignored father has little recourse but to withhold the only the thing that is left to him, once his family is taken from him. That is, money. Sad but true.

It seems to me that Japanese fathers, even after divorce, are at something of an advantage over the divorced wife, financially speaking. It doesn't have to be that way. Both partners could come to an amicable decision, perhaps not the ideal, but at least something that would not leave either one of them struggling to stay afloat. So Japan maintains these ridiculous laws such as (to cite one example) heavy legal and financial penalties that one partner can assess on the other for having an extramarital affair. Everything is thus perceived in terms of black and white (the spouse had an affair, hence he/she must be the one who destroyed the marriage, and therefore he/she has no right to any firm footing in a divorce or custody case because his/her actions were "clearly the cause" of the breakdown). Women become vengeful, hateful and desperate to get their share of the financial pot, before they are eternally severed from it and forced to bring their dependents up on their own. And men are likewise forced to defend their keep, before their wives clean them out. The whole situation is a losing proposition, one that the Japanese judicial system does LITTLE TO NOTHING to help prevent, and the kids are the ones who end up on the losing track, without one loving parent, and forced to grow up with one spiteful parent who had to lose out on something.

All of this could be solved with the application of some common sense, rational communications, and a judicial system that gets to the heart of the matter within months or weeks, not years as it does at present. This, unfortunately, is asking too much of Japan at present, where court cases get saddled in bureaucracy and custody cases take months to years to resolve (if they ever do become resolved satisfactorily for the benefit of the child). If there was anything beneficial I have learned from my troubles with my wife and my ongoing divorce case, I have learned that I could have saved years of heartache by simply spending more time with my wife before we got married, confirming that we could actually communicate properly, testing the waters to make sure that if worst came to worst, we could rationally work things out. Alas, hindsight is a lofty, luscious wonder that we never get the benefit of seeing come to fruition...

- JC


Edited 03/06/2004 17:24:02

Edited 03/06/2004 23:29:03
Administrator (72 posts)
03/06/2004 23:46:11
re: Japan and Child Support   profile
If there was anything beneficial I have learned from my troubles with my wife and my ongoing divorce case, I have learned that I could have saved years of heartache by simply spending more time with my wife before we got married, confirming that we could actually communicate properly, testing the waters to make sure that if worst came to worst, we could rationally work things out. Alas, hindsight is a lofty, luscious wonder that we never get the benefit of seeing come to fruition...

Thanks for your post JC (and your editor's eyes - I often miss the obvious!).

Your quote above is what I have also learned. I've done a Phd in Divorce, and feel very differently about marriage, relationships and the wonderful life of being single (truly). My own marriage was an obvious mistake, yet my son undid the mistake. But the mistake had the last laugh it seems. Knowing what I know now, I would avoid marriage altogether. I am not being sentimental or cynical, simply realistic.
ngaire (3 posts)
13/06/2004 22:53:05
re: Japan and Child Support   profile
Hi
I am in the situation of being similiar to your wife, alas I am the female (English) and the father Japanese. I fully agree that situation 2 is the ideal scenario.

My situation is that I have two children, with their father being in Japan. I have been separated from their father for the last 8 years. During that time he and his family have visited twice to the UK, on both situations they arrived on the first day, flowing with gifts, promises were made during their stay that items of clothing etc would be bought for the children, alas as they couldn't handle the situation they packed up and left without saying goodbye. For two years it took my son to recover from the first visit, during those two years they ignore birthdays of both children and christmas/new year. I would continue to make contact (as I was in belief that I should do so irrespective of them), sending photos etc but no financial help was sent.

Within the UK Governmental agencies are unable to enforce Maintenance payments (un alike within the EU , US or Australia). I was single, with two children, living with my wonderfully supportive parents, yet I have worked fulltime and commuted 5hrs a day to get to a job that would pay decently for us 3 to survive. Times like this are hard as I am living option 1 on a day to day basis.

The children are older now, aged 10 and 8 and understand that their father is not reliable nor trustworthy (not me implanting these ideas, memories of my son mostly). There is contact with the family nowadays, unfortunately onesided by me sending pictures and emails. They do remember to send the occasional birthday gift, yet do not contribute financially still. I have often said that additional 200.00 per month would be a life saver especially as they are getting older. The family in Japan cry poor, yet say they have travelled here, doing this etc. The saying "their loss and my gain" is so true, yet they are missing out on seeing to great children grow up.

The children have grown up respecting you cannot have what you want when you want it, as well as learning the importance of what money you have you use it wisely.

I do not trust returning to Japan as I feel the moment I step out of the plane the children would be taken away and that would be heartbreaking. My heart goes out to the men who are in the situation of not being able to see their children.

I feel that more people need to unite and I would be more than willing to join the "force" to help an issue of this situtation. I speak and write Japanese so would be more than willing to help out where I can. I will say I found during my time in Australia and the UK there does not seem to be any support group at all that can help out.
Andrew (51 posts)
14/06/2004 06:16:41
re: Japan and Child Support   profile
The children are older now, aged 10 and 8 and understand that their father is not reliable nor trustworthy (not me implanting these ideas, memories of my son mostly). There is contact with the family nowadays, unfortunately onesided by me sending pictures and emails. They do remember to send the occasional birthday gift, yet do not contribute financially still. I have often said that additional 200.00 per month would be a life saver especially as they are getting older. The family in Japan cry poor, yet say they have travelled here, doing this etc. The saying "their loss and my gain" is so true, yet they are missing out on seeing to great children grow up.

ngaire, your situation is enlightening for me simply because my wife never expresses her side of the story. It's the typical Japanese view of divorce she has I guess - clean break, no contact whatsoever.

There is an irony here of some sorts. I want to say "always keep your children's dad informed whatever happens" (I know you do already) but I don't know....there has to be good intent from both sides. Japanese attitude towards divorce doesn't lend itself to post-divorce harmony in terms of custodial and non-custodial parents communicating with each other.....as we all know. Your ex-husband doesn't realise how lucky he is in terms of getting access to his children.

As for my own wife (still legally married), she never even asks for money directly, although when I push her for news of my son, she asks me for money without compromise. If I never pursued my interest for contact with my son, I guess she'd never ask me for money at all. As it happens, I have just NOW inevitably taken choice no. 3 for this year (I paid 8 months in arrears maintenance). I KNOW that she will not see this as a signal for her to do HER obligation of keeping me informed of my son but I do not even have the luxury of choice no. 2 because it takes two to tango. Choice 3 is better than Choice 1 for my son - that simple. I have to think this simply.



Edited 14/06/2004 06:17:45
ngaire (3 posts)
14/06/2004 09:42:38
re: Japan and Child Support   profile
Andrew

Ngaire, your situation is enlightening for me simply because my wife never expresses her side of the story. It's the typical Japanese view of divorce she has I guess - clean break, no contact whatsoever.

Yes it is typical of Japanese, yet not just with divorce, business, day to day life what has happened has happened it is too shamefull to deal with so therefore a clean break is the option that 90% of the time is taken.

I was the abductor of my two children, needless to stay if I stayed in the situation I was in I would either have another 5 children running around me or more to the point 10 foot under. My choice to escape (which relied heavily on arrangement of my daughters japanese passport at the time was touch and go).

The Japanese family are really not interested - out of sight and out of mind. I am therefore making this decision of my own, to move on with the children and not make contact. It is hard to keep on waiting for something to come and see the dissapointment in the childrens faces. With the typical image of "Japanese adore children" "Japanese are so family orientated" is not always true.......

Having a mixed parentage is harder for the non japanese side to cope with the situation and get support (within Japan especially and the UK). Japan has isolated itself by not wanting to abide by International Legislation as well as their legal system is somewhat outdated with regards to present day life, yet desire to be part of the International Community. Somehow this does not add up.......

We all share a common theme and experience, with which we can be of support to one another and help the pain.......



Andrew (51 posts)
17/06/2004 11:39:07
re: Japan and Child Support   profile
I think one of the reasons why there is a low birth-rate in Japan is because of the way child custody is settled. I admit I was utterly oblivious of this when I married. I don't think many Japanese are though, as it's part of their culture and I'm sure it's in the back of the minds of many people of child-bearing age. I think if you knew there was a chance you'd NEVER see your children again if you had any, then that would definitely weigh against the natural desire to have children.

To quote the "About FRIJ" section:-

"The culture of divorce in Japan assumes the father will not take any more part in the child's upbringing, EVEN in terms of financial maintenance! Subsequently, a lot of single mother families live in poverty, their children lose half of their identity, and the non-custodial father has to grieve the loss of a child. Every member of the family loses something! "

Even though your (ex)-husband isn't financially contributing to your children's upbringing, he is not breaking any laws. Indeed, I can tell you from experience of other divorced dads, it's not even expected for him (by society as a whole) to pay any money - there isn't even the obligation.

This kind of thing puts people off marriage and kids. Who wants to be a single parent without financial help from their ex? Many single people see this and are put off marriage. Who wants to have no access to their children? Many single people see this and are put off marriage.

By 2006, the Japanese population will start to shrink in size while the retired population continues to increase. I try to imagine what Japan will be like when my son is old enough to marry, and I wonder if the Japanese law-makers will be forced to make radical changes in the law to make it much more family friendly. Already they've made a hole for the next 20 years or so, unless they fill it with more relaxed immigration laws, which I doubt.





Edited 17/06/2004 11:39:57


FRIJ recommends you also visit crn japan, who are fighting international abduction to Japan and working to assure children in Japan of meaningful contact with both parents regardless of marital status