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hour, play together. In all the higher schools established by the State, as in most of the private higher schools, the same system prevails. In all these classes of schools women as well as men are teachers, the women thus instructing both boys and girls. Young men and women are also admitted equally to the university. From 1882 to 1909 about a thousand women passed the entrance examination to the university. Previous to 1909 sixty-four women students had graduated, and these are now practising as physicians, solicitors, barristers, or teachers. Their admittance to all offices in the State is under consideration, an alteration in the Constitution in that direction having been carried a few years ago.
The system of mixed schools has turned out to be successful and beneficial. It is generally acknowledged that these schools have had no objectionable influence, but that, on the contrary, they have in every case been instrumental in raising the moral level of the young. It has also been shown that the girls generally follow the instruction quite as easily as the boys, and at the final examination in the higher schools (the entrance examination for the university) it very often happens that a relatively greater number of the highest certificates is taken by the female pupils.
In Norway the age of consent is sixteen years. The age of majority is the same for women as for men, viz. twenty-one. This holds good both for married and unmarried women. In every marriage, when not otherwise arranged by marriage contract, all the property becomes the joint property of husband and wife, and is divided equally should the marriage be dissolved. When a married person dies, one half of the estate is thus the property of the surviving consort-man or wife. This is his or her part of the joint property. A person who leaves children cannot bequeath away from them more than one-fourth of his or her half; the other three-fourths must go to the children, girls and boys alike. There is, however, this difference--that a widower, even when he has children, has the right to use and manage the whole estate so long as he does not remarry; while a widow must divide the estate with the children when any of them have reached the age of twenty-five years and demand such division. If there are no children, the surviving consort, besides his or her half, takes as inheritance also one-third of the deceased's half.
While the marriage exists the husband is the manager of the joint property; but real estate which the wife may have contributed cannot be mortgaged or sold without her explicit consent. All debts incurred by the wife for the benefit and requirements of the family are binding upon the joint property, and must be paid by the husband. On the other hand, the wife has full right to the exclusive management and use of all she may earn by her personal
work and industry. As the manager of the home she has a legal right to be supported by the husband in accordance with his social and economic standard of life.
If the husband deserts his wife, or if, by want of judgment or laxity in bis management of the joint property, he arouses apprehension that he may waste or squander it, the wife is entitled to require it to be divided, so that she shall have one-half of the joint property under her exclusive ownership and management. Here may be mentioned, as a further safeguard of the rights of women, the law under which a person may be declared incapable of managing his affairs. When a man becomes insane, or is so given to drink, or so dull-witted, or so prodigal, of his means as to endanger the welfare of himself or of his family, a court constituted for this purpose sball, at the request of his relatives or of the authorities, issue a decree declaring him incapable of managing his own affairs. This request may be set forth by the wife when her husband, for the reasons mentioned, has neglected his duties towards his family, thereby exposing his wife and children to want or to the loss of the common property. The whole property is then put under the control of a guardian, who is appointed by the magistrates, and who is responsible to the Committee for the management of the estates of minors.
By marriage contract, as well as by a later agreement, it may be provided that either party shall have the exclusive ownership and management of all that he or she has contributed, or may afterwards acquire by work, donation, inheritance, or otherwise. In that case dissolution of the marriage has for its only legal consequence, in regard to the property of the consorts, that the survivor takes as inheritance one-third of the estate of the deceased should there be no children.
To the independence of women in marriage the nature of the law in reference to divorce is of great importance. An unhappy marriage from which neither party can escape, and which in extreme cases resembles a dungeon whose poisoned vapours slowly stifle soul and heart, is, when maintained by compulsion, a reversion of the matrimonial idea, debasing to both parties and noxious to the children in the home. This is a truth quite as pressing to
. the poor as the rich-to the poor perhaps more so, for they must live much more closely together, and have not the many means of relief and diversion which wealth affords. A humane and liberal system of divorce is specially needed by woman, for she suffers bitterly under the tyranny of a brutal or neglectful husband. The first principles of a just system of divorce, then, should be : No privilege to the wealthy in respect to the costliness of the proceedings, and no privilege to man in respect of unequal conjugal duties and rights. And, in regard to the placing or apportionment
of the children, the mother, in the event of divorce, ought to have a legal presumption to her advantage, as the natural tie is stronger between the infant and the mother.
Little by little we are introducing a humane and equitable system of divorce, based upon a recognition of the full equality of husband and wife and of the principle that marriage is an institution resting upon free will and reciprocal consent. This system, which had hitherto rested mainly on practice, was recently elaborated and codified as law.
The law establishes two methods of dissolving marriage--one preliminary, separation; and one final, divorce. When it is demanded by both parties separation is always granted by the magistrates. No special reason for the demand requires to be adduced. The agreement must specify which of the parents shall have custody of the children and provide for the financial side of the matter. Both parents, however, have the same obligation to maintain the children after the separation as before, and the sum which is to be paid can at any time, if necessary, be fixed by the magistrates without regard to any former agreement or contract by the parents.
If claimed by one of the parties only, separation can be granted by the Crown (really the Ministry of Justice); also against the protest of the other party when drunkenness or gross neglect of conjugal duties is involved ; and, further, when there has arisen so strong an incompatibility between the husband and wife that, in view of their own welfare as well as that of the children, it could not reasonably be demanded that the marriage should be maintained against the will of the claimant. Separation may be granted also even when the conduct of the claimant is not blameless. The vital point considered is whether continuance in the married state would be an outrage against the principle of matrimonial freedom and be really inimical or dangerous to the welfare of the children. The question which of the parents shall have the custody of the children, as well as the question of maintenance, is settled by the magistrates, an appeal being allowed to the Ministry.
A decree of divorce, following a separation, is granted by the Crown when one year has elapsed from the granting of the separation, provided that both husband and wife are agreed in claiming divorce. Otherwise the requisite interval is two years. The Crown has also the power, in certain cases, to grant divorce on the claim of one of the parties without a legal separation having taken place-i.e. when the husband a'nd wife have lived de facto separated for at least three years previously, and also when either husband or wife has been insane for at least three years previously, and it is declared by two medical experts that the possibility of
recovery must be regarded as practically excluded. In all other cases applications for divorce must be brought before the courts.
Divorce is granted by the courts, without previous separation, when the defendant prior to the marriage--the other party being ignorant thereof-has been insane, infected with sexual disease, or subject to alcoholism; as well as when the defendant is found guilty of adultery, of ill-treating his wife or children, or of various other offences specified by the law. Further, should either of the parties be sentenced to penal servitude for three years or more, divorce can always be claimed by the other party.
In divorce cases the court sits with closed doors, and any report in the Press is forbidden by the criminal law. We have no desire that the most intimate and private affairs of family life, and incidents involving personal distress, shall become matter for public sensation and be exposed to the curiosity of scandal-loving audiences. Such unlimited publicity is needless cruelty, liable to divert sensitive men and women unhappily married from making use of the legal remedy for relief, while, on the other hand, it may also press hardly upon the children and injure them in their future career. Nor do we consider that the publication of divorce-court details can benefit public morality, and especially the morality of youth. We have confidence in our judges that they will do their duty although the doors are closed, and, moreover, the parties are always entitled to appeal to the higher collegiate courts, and finally to the supreme court of the realm.
In regard to the cost of divorce cases it must be noted that all ordinary courts have the power to hear and decide such cases, and that when a petition for divorce is to be heard and decided by the court it is the court of the district in which the defendant is domiciled that is the competent tribunal. The judge must begin the proceedings with mediation, but if his efforts fail he is obliged to ensure that all the evidence shall be adduced before judgment is pronounced. The whole proceeding is cheap, and, for the poor,
. practically gratuitous. Moreover, should cases come before the courts of appeal no fees are required to be paid.
Neither the mediation of the judge, nor of the clergyman, nor of the special court of conciliation which precedes the magistrate's grant of separation, is of any particular importance in practice. On the other hand, it frequently happens that, after having been separated, husbands and wives renew conjugal cohabitation, and thus abandon their intention of being divorced.
When divorce is granted by the Crown or by the courts, the question of the maintenance of the wife and of the custody and maintenance of the children has to be settled. The man pays alimony to the wife unless the ground of divorce has been misdemeanour essentially on her side. On the other hand, the wife,
if she has the means, must pay alimony to the man if he, through sickness or for other reasons, is unable to maintain himself and is without sufficient property, provided that the divorce has not been brought about by his misdemeanour or bad behaviour. The alimony ceases should the wife, in the first instance, or the husband, in the second, re-marry. The yearly amount of the alimony is fixed by the magistrates, subject to an appeal to the Ministry of Justice.
The custody and maintenance of the children is settled in the same manner. As a general rule it is provided by the law that the children, especially if infants, shall not without special reason be taken away from the mother.
By far the largest number of divorces are granted by the Crown (the Ministry of Justice). Thus, in the years 1901-1906 about 90 per cent. were so granted, only about 10 per cent. of the decrees being pronounced by the courts. The reason of this is not that the petitions for divorce are generally refused by the courts, but that the liberal system-if I may so call it-of the administrative granting of divorces makes the appeal to the courts in most cases superfluous. This liberal system of separation and divorce has been in force substantially for the past twenty years, and has in all essentials proved successful. The method of granting divorce by the Crown is a hundred years old, and it works, on the whole, unobjectionably and without friction. Many unhappy men and women, rich as well as poor, are saved by the system from a life of misery and disgrace. In spite of our liberal practice, divorces in Norway are not exceptionally numerousrelatively, indeed, they are less numerous than in most other continental countries. In the years 1904 to 1908 there were yearly, on an average, 237 divorces, of which sixty-six were in the rural districts. In the same period the number of marriages contracted was 13,688, of which about three thousand were in the rural districts.
A comparison with other civilised countries shows that the annual number of divorces for each 100,000 existing marriages about the beginning of the present century was as follows :
54 48 59 60 67
79 89 103 190 250
The figure for Norway is of a later date than the figures for the other countries. Although the number of divorces in Norway is increasing somewhat, it is still lower than in most of the other countries mentioned, if not in all.