Easier divorce rules proposed

Minister calls for dropping the waiting period required for couples to go their separate ways

Social affairs minister Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne) is calling for an "update" of the nation's marriage laws that would make it easier for couples to divorce.

The way the law is currently written, a 500 kroner fee and a separation period of six to twelve months is usually required of couples looking to split. Faster divorce is only possible in cases of violence, bigamy, child kidnapping or adultery.

“The marriage laws are out of date and should be modernised,” Hækkerup told Politiken newspaper, adding that the revision would come in conjunction with changes already planned for this year that will give homosexuals the right to marry.

Before any changes are made in the law Hækkerup said she would consider the opinion of decision makers and the public. She suggested, however, a compromise solution where couples could choose between an immediate divorce without a separation or a slower process including therapy and counselling,  

Divorce counsellor Mette Haulund said that current laws are based on what she saw as the state’s antiquated ideas about family and morals.

“There is this idea that the nuclear family is the only right thing, that divorce is bad, and for that reason it should be hard to get divorced,” Haulund told Politiken.

Haulund added that although she felt it was better when couples worked through their issues without divorcing, she did not think the state should interfere in personal decisions.

Governing coalition member Radikale and the far-left Enhedslisten agree with the suggestion. Socialistisk Folkeparti, which also sits in the government, is onboard as well, provided attempts are made to discourage hasty divorces.

Tom Behnke, a spokesperson for the opposition Konservative, says his party is against changing the law.

“It undermines and denigrates marriage. Marriage should not be entered into lightly. It is something deliberate and important between a man and a woman and based on Christian traditions. "

Of the nearly 15,000 couples divorced in 2010, 78 percent were required to sit out the waiting period.





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