(Sankei: July 11, 2015 – p.24)
The Supreme Court, which continues studying ways to speed up the trial process, released a report on July 10. According to the report, the average hearing period of adjudication or arbitration for the issue of parental authority or handing over children was about 7.4 months in 2014, 1.6 months longer than ten years ago, which is contrary to the court’s intention.
According the report, the average hearing period at family courts across the country for adjudication or arbitration on children’s custody such as parental authority or handing over children and excluding cases on payment of childcare expenses or sustenance allowance is 7.4 months for 2014. The period was 7.1 months for 2013, and 5.8 months for 2005, which shows a steady increase over the last ten years. As for cases of childcare expenses or sustenance allowance, the average hearing period remains on the same level as 4.3 months for 2005 and 4.6 months for 2014.
The number of new petitions on child’s custody applied to family courts across the country was 25,728 cases for 2005 and 41,603 for 2014, 1.5 times more than ten years ago.
According to the Supreme Court’s analysis, the prolonged or the increasing number of hearings in disputes over parental authority is due to people having become more conscious of their rights, making arbitration more difficult, which may “reflect the continuing decline in the birthrate and people’s desire to stay with their children; so emotional confrontations between parties concerned is intensified.”
The Supreme Court examines related cases in accordance with the Law for the Expediting of Trials and announces its results once in two years.