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Last update: 03-08-2007
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Maintenance claims - Sweden

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What do the concepts “maintenance” and “maintenance obligation” cover according to the law of Sweden? Which persons have to pay a “maintenance allowance” to another person and in which cases? 1.
2. Up to which age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance? 2.
3. In which cases is the law of Sweden applicable? 3.
4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of Sweden apply? If both the person who asks for maintenance and the debtor are in Sweden. 4.
5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organisation, a government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance? 5.
5.A. How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department(central or local), and what procedures apply? 5.A.
6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age? 6.
7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court, how does he/she know which court has jurisdiction? 7.
8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organisation or government department [central or local] etc.)? If not, which procedures? 8.
9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover costs of the procedure? 9.
10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted, how will it be assessed? Can the court's decision be revised to take account of changes in the costs of living or family circumstances? 10.
11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid? 11.
12. If the maintenance debtor doesn't pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay? 12.
13. Is there an organisation or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance? 13.
14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her case? 14.
15. Can the petitioner obtain assistance of an organisation or government department (central or local) in Sweden? 15.
16. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted? 16.
17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)? 17.
18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organisation or government department (central or local) in Sweden? 18.
19. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted? 19.
20. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)? 20.

 

1. What do the concepts “maintenance” and “maintenance obligation” cover according to the law of Sweden? Which persons have to pay a “maintenance allowance” to another person and in which cases?

Children, spouses and divorced spouses are eligible to benefit from maintenance decisions. The provisions concerning maintenance obligations between spouses are applicable also to registered partners.

Children:

Parents are responsible for maintenance of their children according to what is reasonable having regard to the needs of the child and the combined financial capacity of the parents. A parent who does not have any capacity to contribute to his or her child's support is not liable to provide maintenance.

A parent who is neither a custodian nor permanently lives with the child shall satisfy his or her maintenance obligations by paying a maintenance allowance. A parent who is a custodian jointly with the other parent may also be liable to pay a maintenance allowance. This is the case if the child permanently lives with only the other parent, regardless of whether that person is single or lives together with a new partner.

Maintenance payments shall be determined by a judgement or by agreement.

Payments shall be made in advance for each calendar month. However, the court may decide on another mode of payment if there are special reasons for doing so.

An agreement under which future maintenance is to be paid by means of a lump sum or for periods exceeding three months is valid only if it is in writing and is witnessed by two persons. If the child is under eighteen years of age, the agreement must also be approved by the Social Welfare Committee.

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Maintenance in the form of a lump sum shall be paid to the Social Welfare Committee if the child is under eighteen years of age. The sum paid to the committee shall be used to purchase from an insurance company an annuity for the child appropriate to the obligation to maintain the child, unless the agreement prevents this or the Committee finds that the sum can be used in some other appropriate manner for the maintenance of the child.

An application for maintenance payments to be determined may not be granted for a retroactive period of more than three years prior to the date of which proceedings were commenced, unless the person liable to pay maintenance agrees.

Spouses:

During the marriage, each of the spouses has a responsibility for their maintenance. If one of the spouses cannot maintain him or herself completely, the other spouse is also liable to contribute to the spouse's personal needs.

After a divorce each spouse is responsible for his or her own support, according to the main rule. However, if one of the spouses needs money for his or her maintenance for a transitional period, he or she is entitled to an allowance from the other spouse according to what is reasonable, having regard to the capacity of that spouse and other circumstances. In exceptional cases a spouse can obtain maintenance for a longer period.

If the spouses cannot agree on the issue of maintenance, a court can determine the dispute.

After a divorce, the maintenance allowance shall be periodic. However, payment of a lump sum can be ordered if there are special reasons, e.g. that the spouse needs to make a pension contribution.

An application for maintenance payments to be determined may not be granted for a retroactive period of more than three years prior to the date of which proceedings were commenced, unless the person liable to pay maintenance agrees.

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2. Up to which age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance?

A child

  1. under eighteen years of age or
  2. over eighteen, but under twenty-one years of age, if the child's basic education is not concluded,

can benefit from a maintenance allowance.

3. In which cases is the law of Sweden applicable?

As a rule Swedish law applies in cases where the dependent has his or her habitual residence in Sweden or the parties have agreed to apply Swedish law.

4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of Sweden apply? If both the person who asks for maintenance and the debtor are in Sweden.

As a rule the law of the state where the dependent has his or her habitual residence is applicable. The parties may also be able to agree to apply another foreign law if there is a connecting factor.

5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organisation, a government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance?

5.A. How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department(central or local), and what procedures apply?

Maintenance payments may be fixed either by agreement or by a court ruling.

6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age?

A custodial parent is empowered to claim maintenance on behalf of a child under age.

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7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court, how does he/she know which court has jurisdiction?

The rules on jurisdiction can be found in the Children and Parents Code and the Marriage Code. He/she can also ask e.g. a local court or a social welfare committee for information.

8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organisation or government department [central or local] etc.)? If not, which procedures?

No.

9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover costs of the procedure?

The court proceedings themselves are free of charge in Sweden with the exception of an application fee, which is currently SEK 450. The most typical cost will therefore be lawyers' fees. There might also be costs for evidence and witnesses.

It is not possible to make any assessments of how these costs vary under the proceedings, since it vary from one case to another.

Any person who is not a Swedish citizen and who is not resident in Sweden, neither at present nor at a previous stage, can receive legal aid for matters that will be tried in Sweden, if there are special reasons. If the matter will be examined abroad, legal aid can only be granted if the per-son is resident in Sweden. Nationals of all EU Member States have the same rights to legal aid as Swedish citizens. Nationals of other States will have the same rights if there is reciprocity.

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Administrative assistance can be provided by the Social Insurance Office, Foreign Department (SIO).

10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted, how will it be assessed? Can the court's decision be revised to take account of changes in the costs of living or family circumstances?

The allowance assessment is based on legal criteria. A parent is entitled to retain from his or her incomes net of tax an amount for his or her own maintenance. Housing expenses are generally calculated. In addition to this, there are other living expenses, which are computed with the guidance of an index-linked standard amount. He or she can also reserve an amount for maintenance of a spouse at home if there are special reasons. Finally the liable parent can make a reservation for an amount for the support of children at home. How much of the excess that should be claimed for maintenance allowance depends, among other things, on the needs of the child and the other parent's capacity to bear the maintenance expenses. To some extent deductions can be made for expenses for contact.

When the application is for maintenance in respect of a spouse there are no strict legal criteria. However, some of the assessment criteria mentioned above serve as guidelines.

The allowance is continuously adapted to changes in the costs of living according to alterations in the price base amount. The National Social Insurance Board determines each year whether the maintenance allowance shall be altered and in that event by what percentage. The alteration, usually on 1 February, applies to maintenance allowance that has been decided before 1 November of the immediately preceding year.

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The court may adjust a judgement or agreement concerning maintenance if this is prompted by a change in the circumstances. For the period prior to the commencement of proceedings, an adjustment contested by either party may only take the form of a reduction or cancellation of payments not yet made. Extraordinary reasons are required for a court to increase the allowance for a divorced spouse as a result of changed circumstances.

The court may also alter a maintenance agreement if the agreement is unreasonable in view of the circumstances. However, repayment of maintenance already received may only be ordered if there are special reasons for making such an order.

If the amount of a periodical maintenance payment for a child has not been changed over a period of six years, other than through automatic adjustment, the court may, with respect to the period after the commencement of proceedings, review what was earlier decided about maintenance, without grounds for adjustments as set out above.

11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid?

Maintenance allowances shall be paid to the dependent. If the dependent is a child who has not attained the age of eighteen the allowance shall be paid to the custodial parent living together with the child. If the local Social Insurance Office pays maintenance support for a child to the custodial parent, the parent liable for maintenance may have to repay the State.

12. If the maintenance debtor doesn't pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay?

Cases concerning enforcement of child support decisions and maintenance decisions in respect of a spouse or other family member are dealt with by an officer at the Enforcement Service. An application is made orally or in writing. The enforcement title shall be submitted with the application. Undertakings in writing, witnessed by two persons, relating to maintenance allowance in accordance with the Marriage Code or the Parental Code are enforced as judgments that have entered into final force. A case concerning enforcement is processed for one year from the date of the application, but can be prolonged for an unlimited period.

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13. Is there an organisation or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance?

If the case has cross border elements (i.e. the petitioner and the maintenance debtor are in different member states) administrative assistance can be provided by the Social Insurance Office, Foreign Department (SIO).

In domestic cases the Social Welfare Committee can provide you with advice on how to proceed.

14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her case?

Maintenance support for a child with parents who are separated is paid to the custodial parent by the local Social Insurance Office at a rate of SEK 1173/month. The decision on maintenance support is taken after a application to the Social Insurance Office. The parent liable for maintenance must repay the State, related to income and total number of children. If the allowance instead is paid directly to the custodial parent, the Social Insurance Office pays an equally reduced support. The obligation to repay is initially determined through an administrative process. There is no reason for a child or a parent to ask a court for a maintenance order unless the liable parent should pay more than SEK 1173/month and neglects this obligation.

For families living within the European union Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 of the Council of 14 June 1971 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons and their families moving within the Community is applicable. In such cases the child is entitled to family benefits. According to Regulation No 1408/71 maintenance support is regarded as a family benefit.

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Children living outside the European union are not entitled to maintenance support from the Social Insurance Office. In those cases the maintenance allowances are decided through an agreement or a judicial process.

If the liable parent lives abroad, the Social Insurance Office can order the custodial parent to take steps to get the maintenance obligation determined through a judicial process. The Social Insurance Office takes over the child's right to maintenance allowance up to the sum paid out by the office as maintenance support.

There is no possibility for a spouse to get maintenance support from the Social Insurance Office. The maintenance allowance is decided through an agreement or a judicial process.

A parent with whom the child permanently lives and with whom the child is also registered as resident is empowered to make an application for maintenance support.

15. Can the petitioner obtain assistance of an organisation or government department (central or local) in Sweden?

Administrative assistance can be provided to the creditor by the Social Insurance Office, Foreign Department (SIO).

16. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted?

Through the transmitting agency/ agencies in the petitioner's home state in accordance with the 1956 United Nations Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance.

17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)?

The Social Insurance Office, Foreign Department (SIO) is to take, on behalf of the creditor, all appropriate steps for the recovery of maintenance, including the settlement of a claim and, where necessary, the institution and prosecution of an action for maintenance and the execution of any order or other judicial act for the payment of maintenance.

18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organisation or government department (central or local) in Sweden?

If the petitioner wants to recover maintenance under the 1956 United Nations Conven-tion on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance, he or she has to go via the Social Insurance Office, Foreign Department (SIO).

19. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted?

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20. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)?

See the answer under question 17.

« Maintenance claims - General information | Sweden - General information »

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Last update: 03-08-2007

 
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