Wednesday, August 29

Legitimate Child - Finland

Here is a screenshot of part of the application to register my son's Finnish Citizenship with the Finnish Government. (He was born a Finn and American by birth. It is just that you have to tell them of the event since it happened outside the country.)

I thought it was amusing how they were direct in their questioning of the 'legitimacy' of the child.

(Finnish Translation - Child born outside Marriage)

Here is the simple definition:

Illegitimacy is the status that was once commonly ascribed to individuals born to parents who were not married. - Wikipedia

Although, in the Case of Finland, the status is still ascribed to individuals born to parents who are not married. In some countries the legitimacy may affect things such as inheritance or even whether a child is responsible to support a child, although I doubt that is the case in Finland, where it is common for people to live together and have children without getting married. Many get engaged with no intent to get married, instead deciding to cohabitate. (Avoliito in Finnish)

In late 2005, 21% of families in Finland consisted of cohabitating couples (all age groups). Of couples with children, 18% were cohabitating. Of ages 18 and above in 2003, 13.4% were cohabitating. Generally, cohabitation amongst Finns is most common for people under 30. Legal obstacles for cohabitation were removed in 1926 in a reform of the Finnish penal code, while the phenomenon was socially accepted much later on among non-Christian Finns. - Wikipedia

Think Finland is bad in this regard? The situation is worse in the other Scandinavian countries:

In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, cohabitation is very common; roughly 50% of all children are born into families of unmarried couples, whereas the same figure for several other Western European countries is roughly 10%. - Wikipedia

I would think that if you decide that you can have children, you should be able to decide whether or not to get married. One reason to cohabitate is to permit an easy exit from the relationship. Unfortunately, that is not the best sort of commitment to have children under. I also don’t think that it is the best environment to raise a child in. (Yes, I admit that many married couples make lousy parents.)

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