Change would also revise “presumed legitimacy” child custody law for the first time since Japan created a modern legal system.

Let’s imagine a hypothetical married couple living in Japan. We’ll call them Taro and Hanako. Their marriage has soured, and they decide to get divorced. They both bounce back pretty quickly, and soon after they split up they each meet their real soulmate and decide to get remarried three months after their divorce.

Some might say that’s too soon, but the decisions are up to Taro and Hanako, right? Actually that’s only half-true, because while Taro getting remarried three months after his divorce might be juicy gossip among his acquaintances, Hanako doing the same thing is illegal.

▼ Possible crime in progress

Under current Japanese law, women are prohibited from remarrying within 100 days of a divorce, whereas men can go out and get married the very next day if they want, with no need for even a full 24 hours of bachelorhood between marriages. Even this is a more equal treatment than it was prior to June of 2016, when women used to have to wait six months before they could remarry.

That unbalanced treatment may finally be coming to an end, though. On Friday, the prime minister’s cabinet office announced that it will introduce a bill to amend the law and abolish the remarriage restriction period for women.

So why is there a mandatory waiting period for women to remarry in the first place? Eliminating possible paternity questions is the official reason. The thinking is that if a woman quickly remarries and then has a child, it can cause confusion as to who the biological father is.

The logic is pretty easy to poke holes in, though. It assumes that the divorced couple was continuing to have sex in the late stages of their unraveling marriage, and that a married person would only be engaging in sexual activity with their spouse. It also fails to account for the possibility that a woman might get remarried and not have a child soon after, or perhaps may not even have a child at all, as well as the fact that she may sleep with someone who’s neither her first nor second husband and become pregnant while single.

▼ For instance, it’s possible that this couple is about to spend the night in a hotel together despite <GASP!> not being husband and wife!

An increased societal recognition of those scenarios likely contributed to the shortening of the remarriage restriction from six months to 100 days, but the 100-day ban arguably makes even less sense in terms of trying to establish a blank transitionary state in a woman’s sexual activity.

Also part of the proposed bill is a revision of the “presumed legitimacy” aspect of Japanese law. Currently, if a woman gets divorced and remarries, but has a child within 300 days of her divorce, her ex-husband is legally recognized as the child’s father (in Japan, pregnancies are commonly said to be 10 months long). As with the remarriage restriction for women, the ostensible reason for this is to prevent custody disputes, but it’s also based on some old-fashioned assumptions about sexual activity that now are more widely acknowledged as not being universally true.

An unintended side effect of the personal legitimacy law has been cases of couples not registering a child’s birth in order to keep the wife’s ex-husband from being designated as its legal father. Not being part of a family registry in Japan can cause all sorts of legal problems when the child becomes an adult and needs to verify their identity for work, tax, and insurance purposes, and while the practice of remarried mothers not registering births isn’t widespread, it’s happens enough that the cabinet thinks it’s time to do something about it.

Under the revised law, the mother’s ex-husband would only be considered the legal father of a baby born within 300 days of their divorce if the mother has not remarried. If she has remarried, her new husband will be the legal father. This revision would be the very first change to the presumed legitimacy law since first Japan created a civil law code in 1898 following the end of the feudal shogunate government.

The cabinet is hoping for the bill to be passed during the current Diet session, which began earlier this month.

Source: FNN Prime Online via Livedoor News, Askpro, Kyodo, TBS News Dig
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2) (edited by SoraNews24)
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