Custody disputes – How to apply for sole custody in Sweden (vårdnadstvist)

Postat av: Johan Lindgren 2019-08-23

Applying for sole custody is often a hard decision to make. Therefore, it is advised to seek qualified legal counsel from an attorney or lawyer specialised in family law. At Advokatfirman INTER we help people with custody cases on a daily basis in Stockholm and throughout Sweden. Are you in need of a specialist in family law? We at INTER will gladly help you.


What is needed to gain sole custody in Sweden?

If parents are unable to cooperate and communicate and therefore fail to ensure the child’s rights in accordance with the Parental code (sv. föräldrabalken), the joint custody can be dissolved. If parents agree, assistance can be given by the Family law section (Family court, sv. Familjerätten) which is a part of the social services. If the parents do not agree, the local district court, (sv. tingsrätten), can make a decision in the matter. In this case you are advised to seek counsel from a lawyer.

In custody proceedings, it is often necessary to prove that a parent is unsuitable or that a concrete measure concerning the child has been obstructed due to the joint custody or that the conflict between the parents is so extensive that it affects the child. The requirements of cooperation and communication between the parents with joint custody have decreased lately but the number of custody cases has increased the past years. The child’s best interest is the deciding factor in the court’s decision regarding custody, residency and contact. At Advokatfirman INTER we have a long experience and have specialised in cases regarding custody of children, residency and children’s right of access with a parent/visitation (sv. umgänge). We use the legislation, case law and jurisprudence to convince the court.


Fast decisions/temporary decisions to change joint custody to sole custody?

The local district court can decide to give an interim (temporary) judgement regarding custody and the child’s residency and visitation. If the court considers the matter pressing it can decide to make a temporary ruling until a whole evaluation of the case can be tried, e.g. through a judgement. Questions regarding education, national registration or healthcare frequently arise in these circumstances. If a court finds the parent liable to misuse or neglect the custody, or otherwise lacks in care that endangers the child’s health or development, the court shall decide to change the custody. Threats or violence towards the other parent can also be a reason to change the joint custody to sole custody. At Advokatfirman INTER we will help you apply for an interim judgement for a fast solution.


The child’s best interest in custody cases?

According to the Parental code, the child’s best interest shall be the deciding factor in all decisions regarding custody, residency and access with a parent. In this risk assessment of the child’s best interest special attention shall be paid to whether the child or anyone else in the family is a victim of abuse or if the child is unlawfully abducted, held or otherwise maltreated. The child’s need for a good and close relationship with both parents shall also be taken into account. Consideration shall likewise be taken regarding the child’s wishes in light of his or her age and maturity.


What does it mean to be a guardian (vårdnadshavare) in Sweden?

The Parental code addresses the granted rights and responsibilities of the guardian. The purpose of the guardianship is to protect the child’s right to a good upbringing. For this reason, the guardians are, for instance responsible for the child’s personal matters and shall make sure that the child’s basic rights according to the Parental code are met. Consequently, the guardian has a responsibility to ensure the child’s need for safety, nursing and a good upbringing. The wording “the child’s need for nursing” includes, among other things, to protect the child from illness and injury. Accordingly, the guardian shall when need arises, make sure that the child gets proper medical attention. Furthermore, the guardian has a responsibility to make sure that the child receives proper supervision based on the child’s age, development and other circumstances. To avoid damages caused by the child, the guardian has to ensure necessary supervision of the child and other adequate measures. As a guardian, you therefore have a right to insight in your child’s personal matters and can request such information from for example the school, healthcare and the social services. The guardian shall make sure that the child receives satisfactory education and is provided for. It is also the guardians that decides regarding passport application, choice of school, national registration and major medical care such as surgery. If the parents are unable to make such decisions together, the local district court can decide to change the custody.

If you are in need of legal assistance regarding custody, or if you want to know more, please contact me at or telephone +46 (0)8 796 90 70. Our office is centrally located in Stockholm, but we take on cases throughout Sweden.

Information in Swedish regarding custody disputes (vårdnadstvist), can be find in the article Vårdnadstvist – att ansöka om ensam vårdnad.


Johan Lindgren
Advokat och delägare/Master of Laws and Partner


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