The custody process

Application for summons and statement of defense
The lawsuit is prepared by your legal counsel. The lawsuit states your case (what you want the district court to decide) and grounds (reasons why the district court shall act in accordance with your claims). The lawsuit also states what evidence you want to invoke. It is possible to change or complement your statement of evidence during the process.
After the application for summons has been sent to the district court the counterparty gets the opportunity to respond to it by sending a so-called defense (svaromål) to the district court. In the defense the other party gets to express his or her attitude towards your requirements and submit their own case and the grounds therefore.

Preparatory hearing
The district court then makes an appointment for a meeting (called preparatory hearing or muntlig förberedelse). At the preparatory hearing a chairman, a recording clerk, both parties and their legal councils are present.

At the meeting you look at the case (claims, grounds, etc.) and the aim is to try and get the parties to agree on an arrangement under the direction of the chairman. It is possible that you during this meeting will agree on a solution, temporary or permanent, that both of you are happy with so that the case can then be terminated.

Interim decision (Interimistiskt beslut)
If you cannot agree on a solution, it is possible that during this meeting the district court makes a temporary decission, an interim decision, on what should apply. The interim decision is valid until a district court has pronounced a judgment or you otherwise agree.

Custody- living- and socializing inquiry (Vårdnad- boende- och umgängesutredning)
After preparatory hearing, the court can order that the Family Court (familjerätten) is to implement a custody- residence and contact inquiry. That is an extensive investigation that takes several months to complete. They investigate the child's relationship with each parent through conversations with parents and other adults close to the child, if necessary even the child itself (depending on age). The Family Court then makes a recommendation about what they believe should apply regarding custody, housing and visitation. This inquiry is then the basis for the district court's assessment of the case.

Co-operation discussions or mediation
The district court can also instruct the Family Court to conduct collaborative conversations with the parents or appoint a mediator. This requires the cooperation of both Parties. Family Court / mediator then reports the results of the discussions to the district court. It is possible that you during these talks will agree on a solution, temporary or permanent, that both of you are satisfied with and that the case then can be completed in the district court.

Main Hearing
If you cannot agree during the process the district court will decide the outcome of the case after a main hearing. The court will decide the issues in accordance with what is best for the child. Custody can then be entrusted to one parent (sole custody) or to both (joint custody). The court may also decide with which parent the child should live and how often the child will meet with the other parent. The district courts verdict must be obliged and can be appealed to the Court of Appeal (Hovrätten).

Application for enforcement
If one party does not follow the district court's verdict it is possible to request the enforcement of the judgment (verkställighet av dom). The party that does not follow the judgment may then be required to pay conditional fines.

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