Child abuse victim wins suspension of parental custody

Posted on July 23, 2012. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , , |

More than 30 petitions have been filed with family courts mainly in the metropolitan and Kansai regions to seek suspension of parental custody due to child abuse since a revision of the Civil Code came into effect in April.

Of the total, three out of six petitions filed by heads of child consultation centers have been granted and two led to temporary injunction, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

Separately, a minor who has been taken into protective custody due to abuse from her parents filed a petition for suspension of parental custody and won a provisional injunction, representing the first case in which a child abuse victim has independently sought suspension of parental custody under the revised Civil Code and won a temporary injunction.

The Mainichi interviewed officials with child consultation centers and local governments in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 20 government-designated municipalities and two major urban cities and received responses from certain family courts in big cities.

Many of the petitioners are believed to be relatives of child abuse victims, but a girl in her late teens filed a petition with a family court in the Chubu region through her lawyer in mid-June and won a temporary injunction nine days later.

The girl was sexually victimized by her mother’s new partner and placed in protective custody at a children’s nursing home when she was a junior high school student. She pleaded her plight to her mother who allegedly turned a deaf ear to her plea. The girl repeatedly harmed herself even at the children’s nursing home due to her traumatic experience.

Assisted by a lawyer who was introduced to her by a support group and others, she graduated from high school, left the nursing home and went on studying while working. The nursing home chief acted as her guardian and helped her go on to study and secure a place to live as guarantor because her mother could not be located.

But she had to get parental consent to be eligible for tuition reductions and exemptions and an application for school admission by summer this year. The girl refused to accept her mother as a parent, prompting her lawyer to find her mother and asking her to waive her parental rights. Her mother agreed to do so but was not contactable again, leading her daughter to file the petition to seek suspension of parental custody.

The lawyer said, “One should avoid filing a petition lightly, but minors cannot sign a contract to even buy a cell phone without parental consent. It is of great significance that the law revision has allowed her to file a petition by herself.”

Meanwhile, a family court in June granted suspension of parental custody in connection with a teenager who has been placed in protective custody at a child consultation center in the Kansai region. The center head filed the petition for fear that the child may not get a proper education and become independent due to protracted paperwork.

In other cases, family courts issued temporary injunctions because parents failed to help their children with necessary treatment.
Mainichi Shimbun

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