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Parents   »   Creating Sustainable Agreements

Creating Sustainable Agreements

Strong collaborations often stem from stable agreements. It’s crucial to know what will happen, who will do what, and when. But what should be agreed upon? What are the pros and cons of different types of agreements? Below, you’ll learn more about what is important to consider to establish good agreements concerning the child.

Why is an agreement regarding the child important?

Sustainable agreements are essential because they bring peace of mind for both children and parents when everyone knows what’s expected. After some time with a new agreement, things usually fall into place. There might be minor adjustments to ensure everyone’s happiness. Having a consistent routine is beneficial. It provides predictability and frees up energy for activities, friends, and other pursuits.

What is it good to agree on?

In general, it’s good to agree on the following:


Should custody of the child be joint, or should one parent have sole custody? In most cases, custody is joint, meaning parents make important decisions about the child together. This can involve matters such as naming, registration, non-routine medical care, passports, and choice of school. Both parents have the right to receive information about the child from school and healthcare providers, for example.

Child’s residence or visitation

Where and with whom will the child reside? This might involve shared residence if the parents live close, have a stable relationship, and it’s feasible for the child to live in two homes. Alternatively, it could be about visitation if the homes are far apart or there are other reasons for the child to primarily reside with one parent and visit the other parent occasionally, such as weekends and holidays. It’s also beneficial to agree on when, where, and how exchanges will occur between parents, as well as who takes parental leave when, and so forth.

Child’s right to holiday and major holiday visitation with each parent

Many children spend every other holiday with each parent. Some decide on certain holidays being fixed: for example, one parent gets the winter break while the other gets the spring break, with the summer vacation split evenly due to its longer duration.

Practical considerations

  • How parents will communicate: by phone calls, through the Varannan Vecka-chat, or other digital platforms.
  • What items the child needs to bring between parents.
  • Common routines between both parents: bedtime, screen time, and more.
  • Child’s special occasions: birthdays, school events, theater performances, games, Santa Lucia processions, and more.
  • Should both parents attend, or does one attend the Santa Lucia celebration while the other goes for coffee afterward?

Different Kinds of Agreements

There are nearly as many ways to reach agreements as there are children and parents. What works for some may not work for others. There are no formal requirements for the appearance or content of agreements. However, there are some criteria for agreements to be legally binding, as explained below.

Common Blend of Oral and Written Agreements

Many parents with a solid cooperation mix oral and written agreements. Custody is often already joint when separating, so attention shifts more toward residence and practical matters. Some parents document their agreements, while others opt for temporary arrangements lasting a few months at a time.

The advantage of having a written agreement as a base, with room for minor oral adjustments, is that it’s clear yet adaptable. If the child needs more time with one parent for a period, it can be smoothly resolved verbally and adjusted as necessary.

The downside might be difficulty remembering agreements with frequent changes, leading to chaos and misunderstandings, as parents may perceive events differently or have varying needs.

Legally Binding Agreements

In cases where the parental relationship is conflict-ridden post-separation and cooperation is poor, having a legally binding written agreement can be crucial. For some, adhering strictly to a clear legal contract brings a sense of calm to the situation.

Parents wanting to make their agreement legally binding can seek assistance from the social services department in the municipality where the child is registered. If both parents agree, there is a presumption that the agreement is in the child’s best interests. However, the social services department must objectively assess whether the agreement aligns with the child’s best interests.

There are no formal requirements for the structure of the agreement. However, its content must be clearly articulated for enforceability in court. If the agreement pertains to multiple children in a sibling group, separate agreements should be drafted for each child.

Needs Behind an Agreement Can Change Over Time

In cases of frequent conflicts concerning the child, sticking to a written, preferably legally binding agreement for a period may prove beneficial. If this results in increased peace and cooperation regarding the child, parents can consider making verbal adjustments over time and assess their effectiveness.

Ultimately, it is the parents/parent (guardians) themselves who determine what is in the child’s best interests based on the circumstances. A guiding principle could be to choose the option you believe creates the best conditions for stable and positive relationships with both parents and fosters peace and predictability over time.

Elisabeth Scholander