Moving/settling abroad with children

Sweden
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European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)

1 Under what circumstances may a parent lawfully remove the child to another state without the other parent’s consent?

If a child has two guardians, a joint decision is essentially required on matters relating to the child’s personal affairs, including both short trips abroad and any permanent move. If the child lives with only one of the two guardians, however, the parent with whom the child lives will be regarded as having the right to decide where the child will live in his or her free time, including short visits abroad, as long as this does not infringe any right that the child may have to contact with the other guardian.

A parent who is the sole guardian has the right to take the child with him or her on journeys abroad, or to move abroad permanently with the child, without the other parent’s consent. If the child is entitled to contact with the other parent, however, this should be borne in mind by the parent who is the child’s guardian. The other parent, with whom the child has the right of contact, may apply for enforcement of the contact decision in the child’s new country of residence, where this is possible under the rules of the new country of residence. This other parent may also apply for access under the Hague Convention of 1980, if that Convention applies to the country in which the child resides. If a sole guardian does not abide by an access decision, and thus does not satisfy the child’s need for close, good contact with both parents, this usually has a bearing on how a Swedish court would assess the matter of custody in the event of any subsequent legal dispute. The parents thus have joint responsibility for ensuring that access works well.

2 Under what circumstances is the other parent’s consent necessary for the child’s removal to another state?

As may be seen from the response to question 1, parents who are both guardians may make joint decisions on matters relating to the child, including any stay abroad. It also follows from the response to question 1 that, even if only one of the parents is a guardian, there are certain situations where that guardian should adapt any short or permanent stays abroad to the child as decided with regard to the child’s right of contact with the other parent. Removing a child unlawfully may constitute a crime under Swedish law.

3 If the other parent does not consent to the child’s removal to another state, though it is necessary, how can the child be removed lawfully to another state?

Where a guardian has joint custody of the child together with the other parent, there is an opportunity for that guardian to make a decision alone in certain situations with regard to custody of the child. This opportunity is conditional upon the other guardian being prevented by absence, illness or another reason from being involved in making any decisions that may not without difficulty be postponed. Nor may decisions of crucial importance for the child’s future be taken in this way, unless required to be so in the best interests of the child. There is also an opportunity for the local authority’s social affairs committee to decide on psychiatric or psychological treatment, even if only one guardian consents to it, if this is necessary in the best interests of the child.

4 Do the same rules apply to temporary removal (e.g. holiday, healthcare etc.) and permanent removal? If applicable, please provide relevant consent forms.

The same provisions apply to a parent who is a sole guardian. If the child lives with only one of the two guardians, the parent with whom the child lives will be regarded as having the right to decide where the child will live in his or her free time, including short visits abroad (please see the response to question 1). A guardian who has joint custody of the child with the other parent may also, following a decision by the local authority’s social affairs committee, take the child abroad for psychiatric or psychological treatment without the other parent’s consent (please see the response to question 3).

Last update: 09/03/2015

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