Marriage and partnership
(Äktenskap och samboende)
Swedish families are subject to specific laws, which contain regulations about marriage, cohabitation and the relationship between parents and children. Family law specifies the rights and obligations that family members have to each other.
Marriage is a contract between two adults. It is a legal agreement governed by the Marriage Code.
According to the law, both spouses in a marriage are responsible for supporting themselves and each other. In other words, both spouses assume responsibility for household chores and the family’s finances. Both of them must pay for the maintenance of their children.
Since 1 May 2009, marriage has been gender-neutral. In other words, two people of the same sex can marry on the same terms as two people of the opposite sex.
(Att gifta sig)
Two people who want to get married must file with the Tax Agency for consideration of impediments to marriage. The Tax Agency then checks whether the law presents any impediment to their marriage.
Among such impediments are that one of the people is under 18 or already married to someone else.
All women and men are free to choose whom they want to marry. Forced marriage is against the law.
A couple can decide to have a religious wedding. For the ceremony to be valid, the person who marries the couple must have a marriage license.
A couple can also choose to have a civil marriage presided over by a marriage officer appointed by the County Administrative Board.
Two people who live together in a conjugal relationship are called cohabitants. They may be of the same or opposite sex.
The Cohabitation Act covers the rights and obligations that cohabitants have to each other. Cohabitants do not have the same rights and obligations as spouses in connection with separation, death and other situations.
Divorce and separation
(Skilsmässa och separation)
Divorce and separation are subject to different regulations.
Two people who want to end their marriage can file for divorce with the District Court. If both spouses are in agreement, the divorce can take effect immediately, assuming that they do not have any children under 16. If they have children, they must wait during a 6-month cooling-off period. After that, the divorce can go through. If only one spouse wants the divorce, it can go through only after a 6-month cooling-off period. When a couple divorces, their estate is to be distributed between them. For more information about estate distribution, contact the municipality or an attorney.
When cohabitants separate
Cohabitants do not have the same legal or economic rights as spouses. If cohabitants end their relationship, the law requires them to divide up the items that they bought for their household. They can arrange for an estate inventory if they want.
Couples who are experiencing relationship problems or need support during a divorce may contact family counselling, which can help them resolve their issues. To make an appointment with family counselling, contact the municipality.
The Inheritance Code stipulates who is entitled to inherit from a deceased person. Spouses and cohabitants are subject to different regulations. Inheritance rights can be changed by means of a will. But children are always entitled to inherit from their parents, and daughters and sons both inherit just as much. To find out more about right of inheritance and how to write a will, contact an attorney.