: Japanese Fairy Tales
Justice is administered in Denmark in the first instance by the judges of
the hundreds in the rural communities and by the city magistrates in the
urban districts. Appeals from such courts lie to the superior courts of
Copenhagen and Viborg, and in the last resort to the Supreme Court, which
consists of a bench of twenty-four judges, at Copenhagen.
Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe in which the governme
established any regulation or control over matrimonial affairs.
The body of the law on marriage and divorce is found to-day in the Code of
Christian the Fifth (1683), as modified and modernized, and such customs
and precedents of the Danish people as the courts accept as binding.
BETROTHAL.--A betrothal or engagement to marry carries with it no legal
obligation. The courts of Denmark do not recognize the breach of a promise
to marry as constituting a legal cause of action.
If, however, a woman, on promise of marriage, permits sexual intercourse,
she can sue to have the marriage specifically performed, provided the man
is at least 25 years of age and the woman herself is of good reputation
and neither a widow nor a domestic servant who has become pregnant by her
employer or one of his relatives. In addition, the betrothal must either
have been public or capable of easy proof.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR MARRIAGE.--A male cannot legally conclude marriage
before the completion of his twentieth year. A female must have completed
her sixteenth year. The King may grant a dispensation permitting parties
of less age to marry.
Males and females are minors until the completion of their twenty-fifth
year, and during minority cannot conclude marriage without the consent of
their parents or guardians. If the necessary consent is withheld without
just cause the authorities can furnish the desired permission.
IMPEDIMENTS.--Marriage is prohibited between relatives in the direct line,
whether by blood or marriage, and between brothers and sisters of the
whole or half blood.
The royal dispensation is required for marriage between a man and his
brother's widow, his aunt, great-aunt or any feminine relative nearer of
kin to the common ancestor than the man himself.
Persons convicted of having committed adultery with each other may not
marry without having first obtained permission of the civil authorities.
Persons divorced by extra-judicial decree are not allowed to contract a
new marriage, without permission to this effect is given in the decree.
The law prescribes a mourning period of one year for a widow and three
months for a widower, during which time they are not allowed to contract a
new marriage; but under special conditions the mourning period may be
PRELIMINARY FORMALITIES.--If the marriage is solemnized before a clergyman
banns must be published from the pulpit for three consecutive Sundays, and
the marriage must follow within three months. In case of a civil marriage
one publication must be made by the authorities at least three weeks and
not more than three months before the celebration.
CELEBRATION.--The national church of Denmark is the Lutheran, and in the
case of Protestant Christians a religious marriage must be solemnized
before a clergyman of the Lutheran Church.
Civil marriages performed at the courthouse by a magistrate are permitted
when the bride and groom are of different religious faith or when neither
of them belong to any recognized religious sect.
ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN.--Subsequent marriage of the parents legitimatizes a
child born out of wedlock.
ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE.--A marriage may be annulled at the instance of one
of the parties for the following causes:
1. Want of free consent by one or both parties.
2. If one of the parties at the time of the marriage was impotent and this
fact was unknown to the other. This impotence must, however, be incurable
and continue for three years.
3. If one of the parties was at the time of the marriage afflicted with
leprosy, syphilis, epilepsy or a contagious and loathsome disease, and
this fact was concealed and unknown to the other party. The disease must
DIVORCE.--An absolute divorce upon proper grounds may be obtained by means
of a judicial decree, royal authorization given to the higher civil
authorities, authorization from the Minister of Justice, or a special
The causes for an absolute divorce are:
1. The last two causes mentioned above as sufficient for an annulment.
4. Wilful abandonment.
5. Absence for five years or more under circumstances leading a reasonable
person to conclude that the absentee is dead. Exile or deportation from
the country for at least seven years.
6. Imprisonment for life, if pardon or liberty is not given within seven
EXTRA-JUDICIAL DIVORCE.--The Mayor of Copenhagen and the superior
magistrate outside of Copenhagen--called the higher civil authorities--may
give a royal authorization for a divorce in cases where the parties have
lived apart for three years in consequence of a separation decree, and
both parties ask for divorcement.
The Minister of Justice has also authority in some instances to grant
decrees of absolute divorce.
The conditions under which a divorce can be granted by special royal
decree are not specifically defined, but the decree is seldom granted
except for substantial reasons and according to precedent.
SEPARATION.--Decrees of separation from bed and board may be obtained upon
mutual consent of the parties or if good reason exists upon the petition
of one of the parties.
EFFECTS OF DIVORCE.--Usually in the absence of an agreement between the
parties each party receives one-half of the property which during the
marriage relation was held in common.
The duty of mutual support and assistance ends, but sometimes the man is
directed to pay alimony to the woman.
The innocent party is generally given custody and control of the children
of the marriage, but the courts favour an agreement between the parties on
Unless the decree of divorce has been brought about by her guilt a
divorced wife is permitted to retain the name and rank of her divorced