The divorce laws in Sweden are governed by the marriage code. The country operates a ‘no-fault’ divorce system, and the law is designed to achieve a clean break at the end of your marriage. So, how do you get a divorce in Sweden? What are the child custody arrangements? And how are your assets split on divorce? Here we provide answers to these questions and more.
Divorce laws in Sweden
Sweden operates a ‘no-fault’ divorce system. This means that if you want to divorce in Sweden you do not have to prove any wrongdoing or apportion any blame to the other party. If you agree to end your marriage, you can petition for divorce.
There are 3 scenarios under Swedish law where you will have to go through a ‘reconsideration period’ of 6 months before your divorce is approved:
- if one of you does not consent to the divorce
- you have a child below the age of 16
- one of you requests a reconsideration period.
If you change your mind during the reconsideration period, then you can withdraw your divorce petition and end the process.
If you have been living separately for more than two years, or in the event of bigamy, no reconsideration period applies.
Shared parenting becoming more common in Sweden
In recent years, changes to the law in Sweden have promoted the idea of ‘shared parenting’.
Both mothers and fathers are now entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave at around 80% of their salary. Fathers must take at least some of these 480 days, and they don’t expire until your child is 8 years old.
This approach to shared parenting means that on divorce, Swedish parents continue to have joint custody of their children, as we see below.
Child custody following divorce in Sweden
When you are divorced in Sweden, you retain joint custody of your children unless a court finds this is not in your child’s best interests. Similarly, if both parents request that joint custody is ended, the court will comply.
Custody can therefore be awarded to you, the other parent, or both of you. If you can’t come to an agreement yourselves, the court will decide where your child should live based on their best interests.
Your child retains the right to contact with the non-resident parent, and this contact should be facilitated unless there are exceptional reasons for not doing so.
As both parents are responsible for the maintenance of their child, you will still have to pay maintenance contributions to the other parent if your child does not live with you. Again, you can agree maintenance between you or a court can decide based on your circumstances and your child’s needs.
Sweden are signatories to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction and also apply the Brussels IIa regulations. This means that if your child is taken out of Sweden without your consent, and they are taken to another Convention country, you can apply to the authorities for the swift and safe return of your child.
Similarly, if your child is taken to Sweden without your consent, you can request that they are returned to their normal country of residence.
How property is split after divorce in Sweden
Marriage in Sweden is typically viewed as a partnership, and so a court will encourage you to come to an agreement about the division of your assets.
If you can agree, the division of marital property agreement can be approved by the court. If you don’t agree, you can apply for the appointment of a marital property administrator. They will make a decision regarding:
- what should be included in the division of your marital property
- how these assets should be valued
- how these assets should be split.
Property that is typically excluded from any split includes your clothes, property you own exclusively for your personal use, and personal gifts. Some pension entitlements also fall outside ‘matrimonial property’.
If you have substantially reduced your marital property in the three years before divorce (for example by giving away assets), any division will be calculated assuming this property still exists.
You will generally be entitled to a 50/50 split of any property. A court can override this 50/50 split if it feels it is unfair, based on factors such as your economic circumstances and the length of the marriage.
As Sweden approaches a divorce with the expectation that it severs your economic relations, it’s rare that a maintenance payment will be agreed. You are effectively responsible for your own financial support after divorce.
A court will only award maintenance if you can show that the marriage has resulted in a need for support, and that you have financial needs.
Any maintenance awarded will typically be for a transitional period only, giving you the opportunity to gain employment or training. The amount will be decided based on your spouse’s ability to pay, as well as a range of other factors.
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