Q My Ex Wife and I are US Citizens. Five years ago my job transferred us to Japan. As expected, last summer my company transferred me back to Massachusetts. My wife wanted to stay in Japan with our children for a few more months while I found a home, got settled, etc.
Now – instead of coming to MA – she’s staying in Japan with her male “soul-mate”. And she filed a court case there asking for sole custody of our 3 children, child support and alimony. I was served with papers in MA. But I didn’t file an appearance in the Japanese court. I was told that child support in Japan is based on what the wife claims she needs without a need to substantiate her numbers.
The Japanese court granted her a divorce and entered a child support order which was way above what I could afford. So I paid what a MA court would order me to pay. Then, because I didn’t pay the full child support, my Ex. Wife filed a contempt in Japan. That court held me in contempt and ordered that my share of our joint assets in Japan be my Ex’s property.
My Ex is now in Massachusetts for the summer so I can spend time with our children. She registered the Japanese child support order in the MA probate court and a complaint for contempt for not paying that full amount.
What are my options?
A First, because you need to navigate technical waters, hire a family law lawyer who is experienced in international divorce cases.
Within twenty days after you got notice, you need to file your opposition and objection to your Ex’s registration and a request for a hearing.
Argue that you were not a resident of Japan when your Ex filed her case there. So, while that court could enter the divorce, it didn’t have personal jurisdiction over you. Therefore that child support order isn’t enforceable here.
Get certified copies of all the documents your Ex filed in the Japanese court and get those documents translated into English. Use that material to prove she gave false information to that court. You’ll also need an expert on Japanese family law to testify how child support is determined in Japan.
Then, beyond the no-personal jurisdiction and fraud issues, argue that MA public policy requires – as does Federal Law – that child support must be determined by use of the Child Support Guidelines. So the MA court cannot give comity to the Japanese order issued by using unsupported claims.
Also file a complaint to modify the Japanese custody and child support orders. MA law requires child support order to be what the MA Guidelines require. And parenting is based on what is best for your children – not what’s best for your Ex.
In the words of Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), Japan’s most respected “samurai”, “If you wish for peace, then prepare for war.”