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Parents   »   Child support – this is how it works!

Child support – this is how it works!

Do you have questions about your child’s right to child support from the parent they don’t live with? Here, we’ve gathered important information about child support and children’s rights.

Read on below to learn about child support and how it works!

Parents Have a Shared Responsibility for Supporting Children

In Sweden, both parents are obligated to support their children until they turn 18. If the child is studying full-time at the primary school level, upper secondary school level, or equivalent, the parents are responsible for support until the child turns 21. Parents share a joint responsibility for support, which should be proportionately allocated based on each parent’s financial capacity.

How Can Parents Fulfill Their Support Responsibility?

One parent can fulfill their support obligation by having the child living with them permanently. In that case, the child’s other parent should pay maintenance to the custodial parent.

If the child lives alternately with both parents, the parents fulfill their support obligation by covering expenses when the child is staying with them. In some cases, it may still be reasonable to provide child support even with alternating custody, especially when there are significant income disparities between the parents. (Case law NJA 2013 s. 995, see link below).

What Should Child Support Cover?

Parents’ support for the child should cover the child’s needs, such as clothing, food, hygiene, extracurricular activities, glasses, haircuts, and bus passes. Support should also contribute to covering the child’s share of household/common expenses such as rent, electricity, internet, and insurance.

Why is child support important?

Receiving child support is crucial for the child as it provides greater financial security. It means the child can have more opportunities for a better life, such as participating in sports or engaging with other children in activities like scouting. It could involve additional education, like piano lessons, or better clothing and experiences during holidays and celebrations.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated for each child as follows:

child’s needs × (liable parent’s capacity / parents’ combined capacity) = child support.

The child’s needs are determined partly based on standardized norms (see Socialstyrelsen Riksnorm 2024) but also considering the child’s specific needs, which can vary. For example, needs for eyeglasses, hearing aids, and other personal requirements.

Parentsfinancial capacity is calculated based on each parent’s income after tax, i.e., net income. Deductions are made from this, including housing costs and allowances for a spouse/children living at home, as well as additions for received benefits.

The idea is that the financial responsibility should be proportionately distributed based on the parents’ actual circumstances, and therefore the calculation is based on parents’ net salaries. For assistance with calculating child support for your child, see the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s website.

How to get a decision on child support

Voluntary agreements

Parents can make calculations themselves and agree on the amount of child support and create a contract. It is important to note that there are certain formal requirements that must be met for the agreement to be valid:

  • Agreements on future child support for a period longer than three months must be in writing and witnessed by two individuals.
  • If the child is under 18 years old, the agreement must also be approved by the social welfare committee in the municipality where the child or their custodian is permanently residing.

Court order

If parents cannot reach an agreement, the custodian (usually the parent with whom the child lives) can file a lawsuit on behalf of the child for the right to support from the parent the child does not live with. If the parents cannot reach a voluntary agreement, the court will decide the matter, and the judgment is binding similar to an agreement between the parents approved by the social welfare committee.

Why might a legally binding agreement or court order be important? Because with a binding agreement or court order, the custodian can, on behalf of the child, seek assistance from the Enforcement Authority to collect the child’s support from the parent. For more information, visit the Enforcement Authority’s website.

Important to Know About Child Support

  • Payment of child support should be made in advance each month. For example, payment for December should be made no later than November 30th.
  • Child support determined according to Swedish regulations should follow the price development in society. Any increase occurs annually starting from February 1st.
  • The amount of child support may change if the child’s needs or the parents’ financial situation change.
  • A retroactive claim for child support, i.e., for time that has already passed, cannot be made for longer than three years back from the day the claim is filed in the district court. The only exception is if the liable parent agrees to a longer period than three years.
  • A determined child support can be adjusted to a lower amount if the child has been with the parent for a continuous period of at least five full days or has had the child with them for at least six full days in a calendar month. The parent can then deduct 1/40 of the determined child support amount for each full day of the child’s stay with them. This may apply, for example, during summer vacation. Provisions on child support are found in Chapter 7 of the Parental Code.
Elisabeth Scholander