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Denmark Fights Toxic Family Break-Up

View profile for Jonathan Corbishley
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When it comes to qualify of life studies, the Scandinavians always seem to be head of the league tables, with some of the bigger so-called developed countries lagging well behind.

The reason that the Swedish, Danes and Norwegians are always at the forefront of quality of life is relatively simple, they have a long-term view on dealing with life’s issues.

For instance, Nordic countries intervene very early on when they see youngsters who could potentially go down the path of becoming regular criminal offenders. This work has no doubt saved money in terms of the costs of crime, and prevented many damaged lives.

Also, anyone having visited these countries will see that they invest in keeping their towns and cities clean, have good transport links, and pride themselves on a greater sense of community than we seem to have here in the UK.

Denmark have a new divorce law that came into force in April 2019, which states that parents with children under the age of 18 who want to separate must take a 30-minute online course designed to help them and their children adapt as smoothly as possible to the new situation that a separation will create. To add to this, there is also a new three-month reflection period before a divorce is finalised.

As in many countries, divorce is an issue for the Danes, with almost half of all marriages ending in divorce, but the course has been designed to improve communication and, as much as possible, prevent marriage break-up becoming too painful for couples.  So the law stipulates that without completing the online course within the three-month waiting period, the couple will remain married.

The online course was designed by the University of Copenhagen and has 17 “Cooperation After Divorce” modules offering divorcing parents solutions to potential areas of conflict during the divorce.

The Danes have long been very keen on family rights, offering year-long parental leaves and universal public day care and this seems to be another progressive step, provided the level of separation conflict is not too great.

The modules were tested on 2,500 volunteers prior to it becoming law, and the results showed in the vast majority of cases there was a very notable positive effect on mental and physical health.

As family law experts, it is distressing to see divorces become more acrimonious than they need to be, particularly when there are children involved. Courses such as the one in Denmark, may not provide the complete answer, but it is the willingness to make positive progress for society as a whole, that we should all reflect on.