Parenting shake-up expected
Denemarken - The Copenhagen Post - 27 September 2007
The legal system is preparing for a rush of fathers seeking joint custody of their children when revised parenting laws come into effect next week.
The new parental law, which becomes valid on 1 October, is designed to give additional rights - and responsibilities - to both fathers and mothers.
While current, decade-old legislation requires parents to reach an agreement before joint custody is granted, the new law establishes co-parenting as the norm - even after a divorce.
Under the new rules, joint custody can only be repealed if serious concerns for a child's safety such as abuse come to light.
The law requires divorced parents to share a range of responsibilities ranging from taking the children to school to ensuring each other has information about school activities. Children themselves will also have more say under the legislation, as child welfare authorities will interview them about parental custody matters.
Experts are concerned, however, that the revisions could result in a flood of new law suits. Anja Cordes, chairman of the national organisation of lawyers dealing with custody cases, was a member of the committee that drew up the law's proposals.
She stated that although the political will was in place to establish co-parenting after a failed marriage, feuding parents might lack the ability to put their differences behind them for the good of the child.
'It will take time before parents learn to separate parenting with partnership and to stop seeking revenge through their child,' she told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
She also predicted longer processing times for child welfare authorities in future cases, as parents who had lost custody cases in the past seek the chance to have their case retried.
Anette Hummelshøj, the head of Department of Family Affairs, admitted the new law could place an additional strain on the legal system.
'But our expectation is that when the courts have established a clear line for the legal area, a higher number of parents will be able to settle either inside or outside the courts.'