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2 January, 2017

What happens when you divorce in Sweden?

You never want to start a new chapter in your life or an exciting adventure thinking about the worst, or what could go wrong. It seems almost fateful to even indulge the consequences of what would happen if your family’s immigration didn’t work out. It’s a reality that even the most pragmatic amongst us shuns.

According to a new study carried out by Demographic Research (Andersson, Obucina, Scott, Volume 33, Article 2, Pages 31−64 Published 3 July 2015), there is empirical evidence that suggests separation and divorce amongst immigrants in Sweden are higher than for native Swedes, by almost 15%.

Separation whilst living in a foreign country with your family is an even tougher reality. International law and multilateral treaties can complicate separation of properties and custody of children. But, very rarely is this openly talked about. It is easy to understand the circumstances in which separation and divorce happen for immigrants.

The upheaval, stress and culture shock related to moving to a foreign country alone is enough to test the bonds of marriage. This, along with spousal alienation, fear, loneliness and lack of independence in a new country are the leading causes of separation and divorce amongst immigrants. But, as an immigrant family, what happens when you decide to separate in Sweden?

Getting a divorce in Sweden

What rules apply?

Divorce laws are generally binding in the country in which you reside, regardless of the country in which you were married. There are some special circumstances including Shariah Law and, most recently, opposition to the European Union cross-border divorce legislation.

Seeking a divorce in Sweden is relatively easy, so much so that neither spouse is required to provide a reason the marriage has broken down in order to obtain a decree of divorce. In the best of circumstances, a mutually agreed separation, only a court can decide to dissolve a marriage.

In Sweden, there are alternative options to settling any issues that arise from the dissolution of a marriage. Family mediation and cooperative discussions are all methods that are encouraged to deal with the dividing of property and custody of children agreements. You can read a detailed explanation of these two methods via the European e-Justice portal. The Swedish Courts website also has a clear table of information regarding divorce legislation and settlement methods. Both of these resources are written in English.

Divorce for immigrants in Sweden

For immigrants seeking a divorce, it is often not that simple. In circumstances in which one of the petitioners is dependent on the other for financial and civic support (in plain English, one person is in full-time employment by a Swedish company, the other person is dependent on that person’s financial support and dependent on rights to remain in Sweden through marriage) separation and divorce can become acrimonious, especially if children are involved. In these instances, the Hague Convention can sometimes be invoked. Often, a parent will leave the foreign country that they are residing in to return home, with their children, when separation or divorce becomes a reality. Unfortunately, this often ends with that parent facing child abduction proceedings, regardless of how well intended the move was.

The overwhelming advice from Lawyers specializing in International Family Law is to talk with your partner about what could happen and how you both would want to deal with these difficult decisions. Plan, ahead of time and together. How will you manage your family circumstances if your marriage or partnership does break down?

For more of posts on parenting abroad make sure to visit LittleBearAbroad.

Written by Jill Leckie

Jill is a Scottish Lass who lives with a Viking and is raising a mini-Viking, life is a cross between smorgasbords and deep-fried curly wurlies. Her second baby, Littlebearabroad, was created whilst she was on maternity leave and learning about her new life and adopted country. Littlebearabroad is here to support international families settle in Sweden with kids, meet people and make friends.

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