As one of the most wired countries in the world, Denmark offers hospital records, tax returns, and divorces online. But the skyrocketing divorce rate has caused the country to limit the ease of divorce. What are drawbacks to a quick, online divorce?
The New York Times reports that a Danish divorce can be obtained in less than a week with only a short online form and a $60 fee. But the government has decided that breaking up should be a little a harder to do.
Under new rules set to go into effect next year, couples who have children and who decide to dissolve their marriage will be required to observe a three-month “reflection period” before the divorce takes effect, during which they will be offered free counseling.
The idea is to provide protection for children, who will also receive counseling during the waiting period. (The quick divorce is still available for childless couples and in cases of abuse.)
I’ve written frequently about divorce issues, especially the differences between international and Florida divorces. Florida, like Denmark, has its own restrictions on divorcing, even if not everything is available online.
For instance, you have to be a resident of the state of Florida for at least six months before filing. Additionally, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court and the Respondent files an Answer and/or counter petition.
A final judgment ending the marriage may not be entered until at least 20 days after the date the Petition was filed, unless the court finds that an injustice would result from this delay.
This is Your Danish Divorce
The current Danish laws give divorcing parents only a few days to decide on arrangements for their children online, increasing the potential for conflict. Denmark wants to give parents space and not make decisions right away.
The changes are a rare step back in a country that has moved aggressively to move official interactions online.
More than 90% of Danes between 16 and 89 can use a government-issued digital ID to gain access to personal records or to communicate with the authorities.
The system is often efficient: 1.3 million people logged on to see their annual tax return within 24 hours of release this month. But the push to digitalize Denmark may have gone too far and doesn’t work in divorce and death.
Digital death certificates, required in Denmark since 2007, lead to the immediate cancellation of passports, driver’s licenses and digital IDs to prevent fraud.
Kirsten Margrethe Kristensen was mistakenly declared dead by a doctor this month. “Making mistakes is human,” she told DR, the national broadcaster. “It’s more that one, just by a click, is out of the system and gone.”
The quick divorce presents a similar problem, some officials said — particularly when children are involved.
Soren Sander, a psychologist who has studied the effects of divorce, said that children and adults alike suffer psychologically and physically from a breakup:
“There are indications that with intervention their well-being increases.”
That’s not to say that divorces in Denmark are leaving the internet behind: While some counseling during the three-month reflection period takes place face to face, a mandatory course on the typical challenges of a divorce is available online and through an app.
The New York Times article is here.