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Legislation enacted for smooth child handover under Hague Convention

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Diet enacted legislation on Friday to enable the compulsory handover of a child taken away by a parent who lost custody after divorce, in the presence of the parent with custody rights.

The House of Councillors approved unanimously a bill to revise the Civil Execution Act. The bill cleared the House of Representatives in April.

Currently, there is no legal provision in Japan about the compulsory handovers of children after divorce, so rules regarding the delivery of movable assets such as paintings are applied to child handovers.

If a parent who lost custody of a child after divorce takes the child away, that parent’s presence is required during the court-ordered compulsory handover to the parent who has custody rights.

The revised law removes this requirement in order to prevent parents without custody rights from refusing such handovers by pretending they are not at home.

In consideration of the children’s feelings, the revision requires in principle the presence of the parents with custody rights during the handovers.

The Diet also approved a bill to revise the law to implement the so-called Hague Convention, enabling the handovers of children taken away by Japanese parents from overseas without such parents’ presence.

The amendment was in response to international criticism that the handovers of children from Japan cannot be carried out smoothly although the country joined the treaty, which is designed to prevent cross-border parental abductions of children after the breakup of marriages, in 2014.

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