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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

LIFELINES

Divorce and insurance policies


Divorce

I was married for two years to a Japanese woman (no children). We separated almost one year ago. I recently asked my wife for a divorce, but she wants financial compensation before she will agree.

She won't talk to me about how much she wants; instead she told me to go to family court to ask for a divorce and that she will discuss it there. Can you give me a general idea about how much, if anything, I may be expected to pay? As far as I know, she is still not working, but she is living with her parents.

We are both 35 and I am working. Am I obligated to support her for as long as we are separated? If I need one, could you recommend an English speaking lawyer who is knowledgeable about these matters, or an organization? Are there any resources on the Net or in print about these matters?

Japan, in fact, is probably one of the easiest places to get divorced -- if there are no complications. You simply get a divorce document at the city office, both sign and it is over.

The big problem, as you are finding out now, is when one party doesn't agree. In that case you do go to family court. I have been there many, many times and essentially what happens is two people -- a man and a woman of standing in the community -- meet with both parties separately and try to get them back together. Failing that, they seek to come to some agreement that is enforced by the court.

You need to have a good lawyer with you when you go to the family court meetings and you should keep supporting her until you actually get divorced as they take that into consideration.

For an experienced lawyer, call (03) 3222-5361. Do our readers have any experiences they can share with us?

Insurance

Do you have any information on Alico Japan's policy of not accepting applications from U.S. citizens. I'm an American born and raised here with permanent residency and joined their program several years ago.

Now I want to up my premiums and get a policy for my brother. But we've been rejected saying that we are U.S. citizens. However, the policy can be opened by a Japanese citizen for a U.S. citizen. This sounds kind of crazy, especially since they are an American firm.

I was told they have nothing in writing stating this new policy, but is says clearly in Japanese on the application form: "I do not have U.S. citizenship or a green card" under the contractor's name. Is this kind of thing likely to become common practice among foreign-based insurance companies?

We checked with AIG, which is the parent of Alico, and found out that recently, the U.S. Government has been requiring a 1099 form for various forms of offshore financial transactions and AIG has interpreted this requirement to cover their life insurance policies. Unfortunately, the market for policies is so small that it does not justify all the paperwork.

They can help you find a Japanese company that will get you a policy. You might also want to try Pacific Star Insurance at (0484) 79-2317.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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