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Parents   »   What does “umgänge” with child mean?

What does “umgänge” with child mean?

In legal language, many speaks of “umgänge with child” in cases where the child lives with one parent and spends less than a third of the time with the other parent. The concept of spending time with children is hardly ever relevant for parents to use between themselves, but it can be good to know the legal meaning of the concept when making plans for the child’s everyday life and future.

Meaning of the term “umgänge with children”

The terms “umgänge” and “alternate accommodation” can be very close to each other in practice or mean very different things. It depends on the circumstances of the individual case.

It is usually said that if the child lives with/meets their parent less than a third of the time, it is a matter of “contact”umgänge” (contact) with the parent instead of residence with two parents. Where the line is drawn is also determined based on the circumstances of the individual case. It can be how the accommodation is arranged, where the child his or hers things and how the child’s support is distributed between the parents.

Contact with both parents – a fundamental right for the child

The rules on “visitation” are based on the basic principle that children have the right to close and good contact with both their parents. This basic principle has been considered so important that it is explicitly stated in Chapter 6 of the Parental Code, which governs matters of custody, accommodation and contact.

So it is the child who has the right to his parents, not the other way around.

What can the child’s interaction with a parent look like?

“Umgänge” can, for example, involve living with one’s parent Friday to Sunday every other weekend and on major weekends and holidays. Or one weekend a month. Or a few weeks in the summer. For some children where contact needs to be limited for various reasons, it may also be a question of contact via e-mail or phone calls for a certain period of time.

For many children, it is a question of practical circumstances that determine the extent of socializing. The visiting parent may work shifts on a rolling schedule or live too far away from the child for an alternate residence to be possible as long as the parent chooses to remain in their locality. 

Regardless of what kind of socializing is possible, it is good to try to keep the structure around socializing. In this way, the child knows what applies. The child also gets peace and quiet and the opportunity to relax.

With increasingly better technology, the child and the visiting parent can build a nice and good relationship on weekends, holidays and holidays. The visiting parent can take on basically the same responsibility as a live-in parent and attend development talks, school graduations and theater performances, etc. Video calls with story reading or homework help can also work well to give the child everyday contact.

The live-in parent has an important role here in helping the child in his relationship with his other parent. Helping with trips, reminding about video calls and informing about things that are important for the child’s interaction with his other parent. 

Who decides what the relationship should look like?

The starting point is that the guardians/custodians decide how the child should interact with the parent with whom he or she does not live. For children, it is good if the parents can agree together. The conditions for good socializing and accommodation may then be better for the child.

The child needs to have a say

Similar to other issues concerning children’s everyday life, it is important to talk to the child and be sensitive to the child’s wishes and needs based on the child’s age and maturity.

There is no clearly stated age when the child “gets to decide for himself”. According to court practice, the child’s own opinion carries extra weight from about the age of twelve in the district court’s assessment in matters of accommodation and contact.

Regardless of whether the child feels anxious about contact or thinks that contact is too little time with the other the parent, it is important that the parents confirm to the child that they have heard what the child has said. Perhaps it is possible to arrange more in accordance with the child’s wishes? About inte it is possible, the child has at least been told that the parents are listening and the reason why it was not possible to fully arrange it may be for practical reasons.


If the custodians really cannot agree on accommodation/visiting, the parents must go to court to get a decision. However, this is often a long and costly process that can lead to deepening conflicts. It is generally best to exhaust alternatives to court action before deciding to do so. “Samarbetssamtal” or mediation are available in all municipalities. Managing all communication via the Varannan Vecka app is another good option if it is difficult to avoid conflicts in communication and manage decision-making around the child.

Parent, think about what your everyday life looks like

For children growing up, it matters a lot how much contact they have with their parents. If you as a parent want to build a closer relationship with the child, review your own existence. If you live far away from the child, investigate whether you can change your workplace and move closer to the child? If it doesn’t work out, can you see each other a little more often or for longer on the holidays?

Talk to the child and ask if the child has any thoughts or wishes together with you? If you have a good dialogue with the co-parent, listen if they have any suggestions. For children, it is important that parents get involved and try to arrange time together based on the child’s needs