26 September 1920: Sweden’s progressive new marriage laws


THE new marriage law passed by the Parliament of Sweden in characterized in some quarters as the most progressive in the world. Its leading principle, says the International Woman Suffrage News, is “to make the positions of husband and wife equal; their rights and duties mutual in every respect, and to make them both responsible for home and family.”

Under this new act the guardianship of the husband is totally abolished. A wife may, like her husband, choose her own domicile, and is entitled to take her working utensils and part of the furniture. She may practice any trade or profession without her husband’s consent and has all liberty of contract even with her husband.

The parents are made joint guardians of their children, the only instance where different rights are accorded being that where a child possesses a fortune of its own. In this case the father is legal trustee.

Regulations for divorce are enunciated in the law as follows:

“If both want to dissolve their marriage, they have only to send in to the proper authority an application for separation, which is then granhted for one year without any further investigation. When the year is out each of the parties may urge full divorce and is not obliged to give any grounds for his or her demand. Divorce is then immediately granted. If they or one of them want to get a divorce without going through a year of separation, or if only one party desires separation against the wish of the other, reasons must be given. Such reasons are mainly infidelity, desertion, debauchery and drunkenness, neglect of family duties and knowingly exposing the other party to contagion through certain diseases.

“When marriage is dissolved through divorce, all property in which is vested a marital right is equally divided between the parties; if one of them is in need of further help for his or her maintenance the other will be bound to give such help according to his or her ability, if the divorce has not been caused entirely or mainly by the misdemeanor of the former. The court decides which of the parents shall take care of the children, and its decision shall be founded solely on what may be considered best for the children themselves. Only if the father and mother are considered equally fit to take care of the children will their respective guilt with regard to the divorce come into consideration.”

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 8:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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