Denmark’s new divorce laws make it harder for couples to split

A simple online form used to be all it took for Danes to divorce, but new laws in Denmark are making it much harder to make it official.

Danish lawmakers passed new legislation back in April that made it legally required for people seeking divorce to wait three months and undergo couples counselling, The Guardian reports.

As it stands, Denmark has the second-highest rate of divorce in all of Europe, according to Eurostat. The number of divorces in 2018 alone were equal to nearly half of marriage rates the same year.

The legislative move was implemented in the hopes that it’ll save the Danish government money on housing and services, and lessen the human impact.

“This is about reducing the human and the financial costs of divorce,” said Gert Martin Hald, a psychologist and associate professor of public health at Copenhagen University.

The waiting period and “cooperation after divorce” course is meant to help smooth the transition for the family, and is especially useful if the couple has children under the age of 18. The course, which can be taken online or within a phone app, helps avoid typical post-divorce pitfalls, like poor communication.

“It’s good for both the individual couple but also for the municipality,” Jette Haislund, head of the healthcare department at Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality, said. “Prevention is always better than cure.”

The course provides separating couples with tools on how to deal with common areas of trouble, like birthday parties, co-parenting and resolving conflict.

“It’s about understanding yourself, you and your children’s reactions, and about coping, co-parenting, after the divorce,” Hald explained to the publication. “It helps deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and reduce the number of days they take off work.”

While the customizable course doesn’t promise to mend a broken marriage, it does make post-divorce life a bit more pleasant. And the results don’t lie.

According to Hald, the course showed clear benefits in a trial with 2,500 volunteers before officially being instated. Overall, mental and physical health was better and those who took the course had fewer absences from work.

“After 12 months, couples were communicating with each other as if they had not divorced,” Hald said.

When it comes to Canadian divorce laws, by comparison, couples must prove that their relationship has broken down. A divorce can be granted if the pair have been living apart for at least a year, or were otherwise separated while living under the same roof.

It can also occur if a spouse committed adultery, or was physically or mentally abusive. In the case of adultery, it must be proven that the spouse wasn’t forgiven by their partner, and that they didn’t continue living together for more than 90 days after finding out.

Couples do not have to have been married within Canada to be granted a divorce in the country.

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