Sweden’s High Divorce Rate

In a recent study of women in Sweden, 28 percent of people born to Swedish parents had divorced. But the divorce rate was much higher for immigrant women, where almost 60 percent had divorced in Sweden. The country may explain a lot about international divorce rates.

Stockholm Syndrome?

The divorce rates for immigrants in Sweden seem especially high when compared to the divorce rates in their home countries.

That the divorce rates are higher in Sweden may not be solely due to women’s higher workforce participation. In many patriarchal countries, like Iran, divorce is less accepted, and it can be legally more difficult to get divorced than in Sweden.

Rules about children can differ too. I’ve written on international divorces, especially as they relate to child custody issues and The Hague Convention on abduction.

International Divorces

I’ve written frequently about international divorce issues, especially international child abductions. The Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by The Hague Conference on Private International Law to provide for the prompt return of a child internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another.

Sweden is a signatory to The Hague Convention, but many of the countries where Sweden’s immigrant population are from, are not signatories at all. This can be a problem if child abduction is an issue.

There are some essential elements to every Hague Convention case:

  • The country must be a Hague signatory country;
  • The child must be under the age of 16 years of age;
  • The wrongful removal must be a violation of the left behind parent’s “rights of custody;”
  • The left behind parent’s rights of custody “were actually being exercised or would have been exercised but for the removal.”

So, if a child under the age of sixteen has been wrongfully removed, the child must be promptly returned to the child’s country of habitual residence, unless certain exceptions apply.

The catch, of course, is that a child must be taken from a signatory country to another signatory country, and that is where understanding The Hague Convention comes in.

There is also a problem with hiding assets overseas. The problem of discovery of hidden wealth is even bigger in an international divorce because multiple countries, and multiple rules on discovery, can be involved.

Welcome to Sweden

Often, divorce is seen as a negative development. When families split up, children can find it difficult to adjust emotionally. But, not always for immigrant women in Sweden.

In a country like Sweden, the dynamics between the men and women change. Men who dominated their families because they had the economic power in their home countries lose that power when they integrate into a more gender-equal country like Sweden.

Women from patriarchal societies gain power when they integrate into a country like Sweden. There are more economic opportunities for them, and resources for women’s rights are more developed.

The welfare system is also extensive in Sweden, meaning that even women of low socioeconomic status can leave their husbands with no jobs and receive low-cost health care, education, job training, and a stipend from the government.

For women in Sweden who have migrated from more patriarchal countries, divorce may be an opportunity.

The Atlantic article is here.