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Parents and children

Issues concerning custody of children, residence of children and children's right of access with a parent are considered by the district court if the parents cannot agree. 

Before these issues are brought at the district court, parents may use the possibility of cooperation discussions led by a employee from the municipal social welfare committee. This is a discussion where the parents with the guidance of an expert are assisted in agreeing, and the aim is reaching a solution in consensus. Contact your municipality if you wish to know more about cooperation discussions. The municipality can also offer family counselling.

If it is in the child's best interests the court - when the issues are brought at it - can decide on cooperation discussions.

The district court can adjudicate in the dispute

Issues concerning custody, residence and access are considered by the district court in the district where the child lives or in conjunction with a pending divorce case.

If you want the district court to consider an issue concerning custody of children, residence of children or children's right of access with a parent, you should submit an application for a summons. Read more about this under the heading Legal proceedings/Contentious cases/Application for summons.

The parties should normally pay their own litigation costs in cases concerning custody, residence or access.  

What should I do if what has been decided by the judgment is not implemented?

You can apply to the district court if a decision on custody, access or transfer of a child is actually to be implemented (so-called enforcement).

In most cases you should send your application to the district court in the county where the child lives. You can find the right district court by clicking on 'Sök domstol' ('Search for court').

The district court takes into consideration the best interests of the child and considers in the first instance whether the transfer can be conducted voluntarily. If this is not possible, the court may decide that it should be done under compulsion.

The district court avoids deciding on compulsory means as long as possible. The most common compulsory means are default fines. Default fines are determined as money, which the party who does not want to transfer the child may be ordered to pay. The district court can also, in rare cases, decide that the police should collect the child. Collection should be implemented as gently as possible for the child.


A person who has the custody of a child is responsible for the child’s personal situation. The custodian consequently has a right and obligation to decide on various matters relating to the child. However, the custodian must consider the child's and the other parent's views and wishes.

If the parents are married with each other, they both have custody of the child. If the parents get married after the child’s birth, custody normally becomes joint as of the marriage. The joint custody also continues in most cases if the parents get divorced.

If the parents are not married with each other the mother has sole custody. Parents who are not married with each other can, however, decide that custody shall be joint. Such an agreement must be approved by the social welfare committee. In conjunction with an acknowledgement of paternity, the parents can also apply to the social welfare committee for registration of joint custody. If both the child and the parents are Swedish nationals the parents can also apply to the Swedish Tax Agency for such registration. The parents can also refer to a district court with a request that custody should be joint.

Questions concerning changes to custody are considered by a court on the action of one of the parents or both. The court shall decide on custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. Custody may thus be awarded to one of the parents or both. The court cannot decide on joint custody if both parents oppose this.

If one of the parents dies, the other parent normally gets sole custody of the child. This applies regardless of whether the custody is joint or not. If both parents die, custody should be entrusted to one or two specially appointed custodians, for example a relative.

Residence of children

When two parents who do not live together have joint custody of a child, a court can decide on which of the parents the child should live with if they cannot agree themselves. What is in the best interests of the child is decisive.

The parents can also agree on whom the child should live with. Such an agreement applies if it is in writing and it has been approved by the social welfare committee.

Access with children

A child always has a right of access with a parent (visitation) with whom the child does not live together. The parent with whom the child lives should provide such information as facilitates access, unless there are special reasons against doing so.

Maintenance allowance for children

When the child lives with only one of the parents, the other parent should pay maintenance allowance.

The amount of the maintenance allowance depends upon the needs of the child and on the profile of the overall finances of the parents. Maintenance allowance can be determined by an agreement or by the court if the parents do not agree.

Senast ändrad: 2010-07-16