Active Parenting or Solomon's Justice? Alternating Residence in Sweden for Children with Separated Parents
Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 35-47, June 2008
13 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2008
Alternating residence for children with separated parents has become increasingly popular in Sweden over the last few decades. In this article, a brief background to the use of alternating residence in Sweden will be provided. Relevant legislation will be described and some of the apparent problems in connection to this kind of living arrangement will also be discussed.
It is estimated that approximately one out of every five children with separated parents today are living alternately with both parents. The high frequency of alternating residence can probably be explained, to a great extent, by determined legislative work to ensure that joint custody is the main rule for separated parents. Joint custody after separation encourages parents to take a more active part in the child's life. Alternating residence can be seen as the optimal way to ensure that a child is provided natural and stress-free contact with both parents in the different events of everyday life that is not possible when the child lives with one parent.
However, there are also problems related to alternating residence that need to be addressed. The possibility for the courts to decide on alternating residence against the will of one of the parents appears to have little justification considering that one of the prerequisites for this form of living arrangement is that it is beneficial for children if their parents can co-operate. There are also other aspects of the regulation of alternating residence that need to be improved, in particular questions concerning the child maintenance. Different aspects of the public social security system for children with separated parents also need to be adjusted to provide just and fair solutions for children with alternating residence. Finally, since alternating residence is motivated by a desire to protect the best interests of the child, further research clarifying the experiences of children with alternating residence needs to be carried out.
Keywords: alternating residence, joint custody, child support, Sweden
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