Should the UK introduce a mandatory course for divorce-seeking couples?
You’ve decided your marriage isn’t working anymore and it’s time to take action and make an appointment with a family solicitor to discuss the next steps. How would you feel if you were told you had to complete a course before you could divorce your other half?
It’s a question that divorcing parents in Denmark are now having to deal with, after a new law came into force just over a month ago, which means parents with children under 18 years old who want to get a divorce now have to partake in a half-hour online course to help both them and their children to adjust to their new circumstances.
If the course is not completed by the couple wanting to divorce, they will stay married.
One of the people who helped develop the course, Professor Gert Martin Hald from the University of Copenhagen, told a news outlet that the course “gives advice on communication with your former partner and how to help your children”.
In Denmark, it is reported that nearly half of all marriages ended in divorce in 2017. Danes are able to get a divorce relatively quickly compared to the UK, although there is now a three-month reflection period.
Should the course be replicated in the UK?
Firstly, it’s worth reiterating that the divorce process in Denmark is very different to that in the UK.
While in Denmark couples who both agree to the divorce can get their divorce almost immediately by submitting an application to the State Administration, the same cannot be said of here in the UK. There is an obligatory waiting period of 6 weeks and 1 day between the decree nisi and the application for the decree absolute (when the divorce is finalised). Indeed, it’s not unusual for divorces to take around 9 months here in the UK, sometimes much longer if there are complex issues. It is for this reason that the 3-month reflection period seems unnecessary within our current system, as couples can always change their mind before the divorce is finalised.
On the other hand, anything which could help families to plan for life after divorce is always welcome, especially in the form of a simple online course. The divorce process can be stressful for parents and children alike, so if this course is shown to improve communication and can help to build the foundations for the new family life post-divorce, maybe making it mandatory for divorcing parents in the UK may not be such a bad idea.
If you would like advice about how to start planning for yours and your children’s future post-divorce, get in touch to speak to one of our family lawyers today.
This article was written by Lauren Howells and Megan Bennie.