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New rules drive up the cost of love

With new laws set to kick in that require co-habitating couples to live up to the same obligations as married couples, one young couple wonders why they don’t get the same benefits


Anne Kastrup is unable to work due to an injury. Under the new laws, Dale thinks it would make financial sense for him to stop working too (Private photo)

November 30, 2013
08:15

by Ray Weaver


Martin Dale is a British citizen who has been living and working in Denmark for 13 years. He is a musician, producer and artist who owns his own production company.  He purchased and is paying a mortgage on a flat in Helsingør. He speaks fluent Danish. In other words, he has jumped through all of the hoops required for residency. But Dale now faces the very real possibility of having to pull up sticks and leave Denmark forever. His crime? He fell in love with a Danish woman.
 
Dale has been in a relationship with Anne Kastrup for four years. They aren’t married, and therein lies the rub. Kastrup has a back injury and is in treatment for mental issues that make her unable to work. She collects unemployment benefits from the government. When the new laws kick in at the beginning of next year requiring the working member of an unmarried couple to pay the disability benefit of the partner who cannot work – the way married couples are required to – Dale and Kastrup will essentially go broke.
 
“If I make more than 11,000 kroner per month, the amount is taken out of Anne’s benefits,” Dale said. “If I should make 22,000 kroner in one month, she will receive no benefits at all.”
 
Dale, a hard-working musician who tours and works constantly, said that the new rules actually encourage people not to work so that their partners can keep receiving benefits.
 
Short end of the stick
Dale said that the couple are being treated like a married couple, but receiving none of the tax breaks or benefits that married couples enjoy.
 
Anne will continue to pay taxes on her benefits, and Dale will continue to pay income tax on his earnings on top of being docked for Anne’s benefits. Married couples who support each other receive tax breaks and are able to write off income that unmarried couples cannot under the new laws.
 
“Even though everyone involved in Anne’s case knows she can’t work, she has to go to ‘job interviews’ regularly as there is no box for sick or injured people in the new system,” said Dale.
 


Martin Dale's income as a musician and producer will be docked to cover his girlfriend's disability

How often do you have sex?
In a somewhat bizarre twist regarding the new laws, 4,700 couples in Copenhagen over the age of 25 have received letters from the City Council asking them to clarify the status of their relationships. In short, are they having sex? And how often? Six out of ten Danes are opposed to the new laws governing unmarried couples, which have the potential to cost 5,000-7,000 kroner per month.

Dale wondered, bemusedly, exactly how the city intends to administer and enforce that part of the new law. “It’s impossible,” he said.

Dale said that he is not sure what he and Kastrup will do if the laws take effect.
“Our choices are to split up, move out of Denmark, or I can give up my business and quit working and we can just live on benefits,” he said. “None of those are real options."

Denmark needs to take care of its own
Dale contends that the new laws are unconstitutional; violating the sections of the constitution that say that it is the state’s responsibility to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

“I am a British citizen, not a Dane, and I am now forced to take on the responsibilities of supporting a Dane that the state should be required to take care of.”

Dale said that he and Kastrup cannot get married because he is a property owner, and Kastrup would lose her benefits completely if they married.

“We can’t do it because I pay a mortgage,” said Dale. “Right now we have an okay lifestyle. I can afford the occasional bunch of flowers or a small gift, but if these new laws take effect, or we get married, we will lose everything.”
Dale said he will be contacting several ministers and intends to continue his fight against the new laws.


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