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Marriage - financial/legal implications

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I've been in Japan almost 15 years, and have PR status.

As my Japanese partner and I plan to be together long-term, I've been trying to find out the legal/financial implications of marriage.

For us to live overseas, as we plan to do sometime, being married would certainly make things easier.

But I am wondering about the implications in Japan.

We currently live separately, her with her two teenage kids in the countryside and me in central Tokyo.

Would there be any new financial obligations I would face - taxes, pensions, healthcare, etc?

She currently receives benefits as a low income earner and single mother - would she lose these? (Her ex has never provided any support in over 10 years).

Would I be legally obliged to provide for her kids and responsible for them, their education, etc. if she were incapacitated or died?

We plan to be together in any case, but simply wondering if marriage would make things easier or more difficult.

Thanks in advance for any helpful information.
 
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Of course I would expect being married might help - maybe with such things as getting a bank loan, family benefits of some other kind, etc.
 
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Would I be legally obliged to provide for her kids and responsible for them, their education, etc. if she were incapacitated or died?
There are other things in your post that I might ask about, but this part takes the cake.

If you're asking this question, like this, you shouldn't be getting married.
 
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There are other things in your post that I might ask about, but this part takes the cake.
If you're asking this question, like this, you shouldn't be getting married.
Marriage means different things to different people. Taking on a lifetime of responsibility for someone else's children is no small thing. I think it's a very reasonable question to be asking. I wonder whether the responsibility would fall on me or her family?
That question aside, are there any other things you might be able to help with answers to?
 
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It sounds like you're trying to ask if you can maintain her social welfare benefits if you do in fact get married.

And that that will make a difference in whether you do get married or not.

And her, with a couple teenage children, and you, sort of claiming at this point that helping those kids out will somehow be a "lifetime" of responsibility.

How about you stop thinking of it as transactional, with a winner and a loser, and trying win-win?

Like maybe you could gift those kids with college educations. And it wouldn't be total charity--you'd be helping the kids of someone whom you (apparently) care for (tho it does look like you're looking at the marriage in terms of economic convenience rather than something emotional).

Frankly, I'm not sure why I'm writing this. Your whole point of view on marriage seems wrong. You seem to be looking at it as a means of economic gain (or not), and little else.

Good luck.
 
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Please don't assume you understand my beliefs/point of view by trying to read between the lines of my questions.

My questions are purely about the financial and legal issues of marriage because those are the things about which I don't have information. Completely separate from personal feelings, intentions, degree of commitment, future plans and so on within my relationship, which are not things I wish to air on a public forum.

If becoming married is financially detrimental, that would be a (possible) reason not to do so, and our relationship could happily continue as it currently stands. However if marrying will be beneficial, it would be worth taking that into account. That's why I'm asking.
 
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mdchachi

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I think his questions are smart. Most people jump into these things without thinking through the consequences. It's much better to know up front the ramifications and to make an informed decision. And also to make any legal/financial arrangements that make sense for the situation. For example in the U.S. it's common to make arrangements for one's children before getting remarried. Otherwise, by default, when you die, the new spouse will end up with 100% of the estate and, often, the children will get nothing.
 

Mike Cash

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I think his questions are smart
They're certainly not unreasonable. But....

Anybody here 15 years ought to be able to look this up himself.

If he can't get the info through his J-capable fiancee without them red flagging each other, that's a red flag.

The last time I tried helping him on an inquiry it was like arguing with a stump on fire. I don't care to look up the facts for him and then get an indignant bubble-gaijin earful about how he doesn't approve of the facts.
 

mdchachi

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From the point of view of the law, at present, adoption is the only means to establish a legal parent-child relationship between the child and the step-parent with all its legal effects, especially parental authority and custody, obligation to support and rights concerning inheritance. Without undergoing adoption, a step-child and step-parent are related by affinity in the first degree, which means that they only have a mutual obligation to “help each other” as “relatives who live together” and, only under “special circumstances” a duty to support. Although the step-parent will, in reality, care for the step-child much in the same way as a custodial parent, there is no legal basis for this exercise of care in Japanese law at present. In addition, following the divorce of the custodial parent and the step-parent, case law has denied contact between the child and step-parent.
 
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They're certainly not unreasonable. But....
Anybody here 15 years ought to be able to look this up himself.
Sorry Mike, although I've learned to speak Japanese to an intermediate level, I've not learned to read legal/business-level kanji. Searching online or trying to read documents on such subjects is beyond my capability.
If he can't get the info through his J-capable fiancee without them red flagging each other, that's a red flag.
She is quite naive with regard to such things, and like most Japanese will simply pay a "qualified person" to take care of such things - whether dealing with finances and insurance or replacing a broken electrical socket.
The last time I tried helping him on an inquiry it was like arguing with a stump on fire. I don't care to look up the facts for him and then get an indignant bubble-gaijin earful about how he doesn't approve of the facts.
I've only asked one previous question on these forums, in which we agreed to facts and possible solutions, but simply had different views about whether the reasons for one particular rule were justifiable or not. There's no need to accuse me of being an "indignant bubble-gaijin", just because I logically explained a viewpoint different from yours.

Anyway, the general tone of responses to my questions on this thread has been unhelpful to say the least. Judgements, accusations and opinionated insults rather than usable information. I'm quite surprised that, having asked for answers about finance, tax or legal repercussions of marriage, I've received mainly personal attacks.
 
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From the point of view of the law, at present, adoption is the only means to establish a legal parent-child relationship ...
Thanks, mdchachi.
I suspected this might be the case, especially in light of the many well-documented instances of natural parents being denied access to their children after a divorce.
I figure that in the case of a step-parent after a natural parent's death, the responsibility for children revert back to the family of the natural parent. This would seem to make sense, especially in the case of a foreign step-parent (like I might become), as children could feel far more connected to their long-term original family than a relative newcomer from a different culture.

With regard to taxation/finances, obviously I would help support my new family within marriage, but are there any specific benefits/drawbacks to being married that you know of - comparison charts based on individual incomes vs joint incomes, etc. Whether it be tax breaks or loan advantages, or less access to benefits, I would be very grateful to know about such things before deciding whether to marry.

Marriage these days is as much (if not more) about status in the eyes of bureaucracy as it is about love/relationship.
 

Mike Cash

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Sorry Mike, although I've learned to speak Japanese to an intermediate level, I've not learned to read legal/business-level kanji. Searching online or trying to read documents on such subjects is beyond my capability.
By the time 15 years have rolled past, illiteracy is a choice.

Your fiancee's way chosen method of alleviating ignorance is to pay others. I find her choice the more laudable.
 
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By the time 15 years have rolled past, illiteracy is a choice.

Your fiancee's way chosen method of alleviating ignorance is to pay others. I find her choice the more laudable.
You are correct. I have indeed chosen to work on cultural exchange, developing relationships, building artistic experience and knowledge, travelling and learning about Japan and the Japanese etc. rather than sitting at a desk or in a classroom studying kanji. I fail to see why you have a problem with that.

Kindly keep your speculations and insults off this thread. I asked some simple and reasonable questions. As you appear to have no agenda other than to criticise, abuse and judge me, I request that you keep such unnecessary and reactionary intolerance to yourself.

I wouldn't imagine anyone, least of all me, is interested in your opinions about someone you've never met, don't know and have no basis on which to judge.
 

mdchachi

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With regard to taxation/finances, obviously I would help support my new family within marriage, but are there any specific benefits/drawbacks to being married that you know of - comparison charts based on individual incomes vs joint incomes, etc. Whether it be tax breaks or loan advantages, or less access to benefits, I would be very grateful to know about such things before deciding whether to marry.
Obviously not too much expertise here. If you are really desperate, PM me and I will put you in touch with a friend of mine who married under similar circumstances.
 
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I planned on adding my comments earlier, but I got pulled away. Now, after the moderator cleanup, I'm back.

As my Japanese partner and I plan to be together long-term, I've been trying to find out the legal/financial implications of marriage.
Have either of you discussed any of this with city hall or the ward office? It would seem to be a sensible place to start.

For us to live overseas, as we plan to do sometime, being married would certainly make things easier.
Does "overseas" mean outside Japan? I got that impression. So, assuming you have some place in mind, the only thing I can think of is the kids. If you don't adopt them, will your future country of residence accept you as the step-father, and in what capacity?

But I am wondering about the implications in Japan.
If my earlier assumption is correct, how long will you plan to be in Japan before moving away?

We currently live separately, her with her two teenage kids in the countryside and me in central Tokyo.
This seems quite odd, so I hope you are not offended if I ask how far away that is, how often you see each other, and why you choose to live like this?

Would there be any new financial obligations I would face - taxes, pensions, healthcare, etc?
Undoubtedly, so talk to the city hall or ward office. You can choose to file separate taxes, of course, and insurance coverage is up to you two. As for pension, you need to list someone as beneficiary.

She currently receives benefits as a low income earner and single mother - would she lose these?
What benefits? My wife works and makes only a pittance of a salary. I believe spouses can make something like 1.3 million yen per year before it becomes a liability on taxes (assuming you file jointly).

Would I be legally obliged to provide for her kids and responsible for them, their education, etc. if she were incapacitated or died?
If you are not the father and have not adopted them, I'm guessing not, but this definitely deserves that call to city hall!

We plan to be together in any case, but simply wondering if marriage would make things easier or more difficult.
How soon are you considering this?
 

mdchachi

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Is city hall really that helpful?? I can't imagine getting helpful information out of my city hall about tax planning, social programs, marriage benefits, family law in my native language and country let alone in Japan.
 
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Is city hall really that helpful?? I can't imagine getting helpful information out of my city hall about tax planning, social programs, marriage benefits, family law in my native language and country let alone in Japan.
My ward office in Japan was enthusiastically helpful, I'd say that is almost always the best first step in Japan when one wants to understand anything governmental.

Here in Vietnam I avoid the government as much as possible. Back in the states I did the same, though for different reasons.

It probably sounds silly, but one of the things I really miss about Japan is the access to governmental offices with people who are genuinely there to help me.
 
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Given that it's a question that could affect the rest of your life, perhaps you should get prices from a lawyer and an interpreter.
 
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There may be some benefits that would would have from not marrying if your SO is getting some social assistance benefits.

However many of these are determined by the city and vary on location. For example, for where I am single mothers get a break on hospital costs up to the end of high school - they pay no costs for medicine or hospital visits.

If you were to marry, she would probably lose these benefits. But as others have suggested a visit to City Hall is in order-as they can really tell you what’s going on and can be very helpful.

If you stay in Japan, her income impacts the amount of support they can get to go to university, but usually will mean a larger loan amount (not a grant or tuition wavier), and perhaps first access to low-cost housing is university students based on the income of their mother.


These are only a few benefits that I’m aware of, and I’m sure there are others but you should probably check with people who are experts in this-City Hall or other government officials.

As for the downside if your aSO is injured or hospitalized in ICU or vice versa, you won’t be able to visit- family only- nor have any say in treatment etc.
 
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Hi Glenski, thanks for your response. In answer to your questions:

Have either of you discussed any of this with city hall or the ward office? It would seem to be a sensible place to start.
As mdchachi suggests in a previous reply, I don't really trust that they will be able to (or be interested in) advising on tax planning etc. Also, I'd rather keep all research strictly "unofficial".

Does "overseas" mean outside Japan? I got that impression. So, assuming you have some place in mind, the only thing I can think of is the kids. If you don't adopt them, will your future country of residence accept you as the step-father, and in what capacity?
If my earlier assumption is correct, how long will you plan to be in Japan before moving away?
The idea is we'll stay in Japan until the kids are old enough to leave home, then go overseas as a couple. So most of these questions regarding benefits etc. only apply to the next few years while we're still in Japan.

This seems quite odd, so I hope you are not offended if I ask how far away that is, how often you see each other, and why you choose to live like this?
We live about 90 mins. apart by train from each other. She has a rent-free place to live so isn't thinking of moving. My work and home are in Tokyo, so neither am I planning to move. It's an unconventional relationship but we're both choosing it.

Undoubtedly, so talk to the city hall or ward office. You can choose to file separate taxes, of course, and insurance coverage is up to you two. As for pension, you need to list someone as beneficiary.
If we marry, that's when the issue of seperate taxes might become difficult - exactly the kind of thing I'd like to know - for example, can we remain completely financially independent (at least on paper) if we're married?

What benefits? My wife works and makes only a pittance of a salary. I believe spouses can make something like 1.3 million yen per year before it becomes a liability on taxes (assuming you file jointly).
There are a number of benefits/discounts, including medical/hospital benefits as mentioned in Tomoni's reply.

If you are not the father and have not adopted them, I'm guessing not, but this definitely deserves that call to city hall!

How soon are you considering this?
I'm not considering adopting. The kids will be grown up and independent within a few years. Until then I'm happy to give guidance and support as their mother's partner, but not to take full responsibility.
 
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There may be some benefits that would would have from not marrying if your SO is getting some social assistance benefits.

However many of these are determined by the city and vary on location. For example, for where I am single mothers get a break on hospital costs up to the end of high school - they pay no costs for medicine or hospital visits.

If you were to marry, she would probably lose these benefits. But as others have suggested a visit to City Hall is in order-as they can really tell you what’s going on and can be very helpful.

If you stay in Japan, her income impacts the amount of support they can get to go to university, but usually will mean a larger loan amount (not a grant or tuition wavier), and perhaps first access to low-cost housing is university students based on the income of their mother.
...
As for the downside if your aSO is injured or hospitalized in ICU or vice versa, you won’t be able to visit- family only- nor have any say in treatment etc.
Thanks for the reply.
I wonder if, for example, we can still remain financially independent if we marry, or whether everything will suddenly be considered as "joint".
 
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I've been in Japan almost 15 years, and have PR status.

Based on the fact that you have PR it does not matter if you do not get married.

As my Japanese partner and I plan to be together long-term, I've been trying to find out the legal/financial implications of marriage.

Why are you so concerned about the financial side of things, you either want to get married or you do not.

For us to live overseas, as we plan to do sometime, being married would certainly make things easier.

That is very true!! Without marriage and adopting the children it may be very difficult.

Would there be any new financial obligations I would face - taxes, pensions, healthcare, etc?

Living as a family could mean that the total health and pension costs could be reduced as dependents can actually lower the total amount you pay.

She currently receives benefits as a low income earner and single mother - would she lose these? (Her ex has never provided any support in over 10 years).

There is a high chance she would lose benefits that she receives based on her situation as a single mother. As for the husband not paying anything, that is normal here in Japan, as most Japanese prefer the clean break and as a result most never pay, but you have to consider that there is no system to enforce payment.

Would I be legally obliged to provide for her kids and responsible for them, their education, etc. if she were incapacitated or died?

If you get married its obvious you would take on financial responsibility for her children, though if you feel you cannot or do not want to do that then you should not even be considering her as a potential marriage
partner.

Should anything happen to your partner in the future if you get married and or adopt her children you would only be legally financially responsible if you adopt them, but you should understand that just because your partner may be incapacitated for any reason its no excuse to turn your back on her children should you not adopt them.

We plan to be together in any case, but simply wondering if marriage would make things easier or more difficult.

If you are planning to get together anyway then just get married and accept that being married means taking on the responsibility of her children, if you cannot do that then do not get married.
 
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Thanks for the reply.
I wonder if, for example, we can still remain financially independent if we marry, or whether everything will suddenly be considered as "joint".
I personally feel that living in a marriage means you share everything, if you are going to live independently then there will always be times that you will ague over money.

But in most cases when married to a Japanese wife, she would manage all the family finances and that could mean she would give you a monthly allowance.
 
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Thanks for the reply.
I wonder if, for example, we can still remain financially independent if we marry, or whether everything will suddenly be considered as "joint".
It depends what you mean by “joint”. you will need to file taxes, pension payments, etc as a family unit.

But as far as your assists are concerned it could be hard for your wife to get them (what she would be entitled to legally) in case of a divorce without a lawyer and an ex that is not willing to skip town.

I don’t know why everyone thinks you should just up and get married if that’s what you’re thinking about because unless it’s a religious issue for you, if waiting is better financially perhaps it makes sense. I think when you decide to go back to your home country together, being married will be important for her getting a residency visa but other than that if you’re happy with the way things are-what’s the rush?

The modern family has changed a lot, so I think it’s a question of what feels comfortable for you and what works for you financially and working between the two.

That’s about all I can offer, because I’m not really that well informed about the legal inns and outs of your situation. I hope that helps.
 
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