Divorce in a family with children

If parents who have children decide to get a divorce, the most important practical matters that need to be dealt with are the dissolution of the parents’ partnership, arranging the child’s matters and the distribution of property.

Divorce and the dissolution of cohabitation

A marriage may be dissolved by a court decision. Apply for a divorce from a district court. Divorce may be granted after a reconsideration period of six months. It may also be granted immediately if the spouses have lived separated for at least the past two years without interruptions. Ministry of Justice: The Marriage Act/ Dissolution of marriage 

The dissolution of a cohabiting partnership happens by a mutual decision of the cohabiting partners. There is no need to contact the authorities.

Co-parenting and agreements on the child’s matters

A child’s ability to cope with the changes and losses caused by the parents’ divorce critically depends on the parents’ ability to work out their disagreements. If the parents learn to have a positive attitude towards each other and work together to arrange the child’s matters, this will protect the child and help them to maintain a close relationship with both parents. If the parents are unable to work together and spend their time arguing, the child is very likely to feel very conflicted and stressed out. If the parents are unable to cooperate and cannot find a way to work together, they should seek help as soon as possible.

The child’s matters will be arranged in the same way regardless of whether the parents were a married couple or cohabiting partners. The parents of minors must reach an agreement on child custody, the child’s residence, right of access and maintenance.

A divorce or separation is always a psychosocial process, and processing it is as important as taking care of the practical matters. Further information: A Parent’s Guide – Information and support for divorcing families with children, published by the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters.

The parents of minors must reach an agreement on child custody, the child’s residence, right of access and maintenance. The child welfare officer can help the parents to draw up agreements and make sure these are in the best interests of the children. An agreement negotiated and confirmed with the help of a child welfare officer is legally as binding as a court decision. Child welfare officers also assess what is in the child’s best interests on the same basis as a court would.

If the parents are unable to agree on the child’s matters on their own or with the help of a child welfare officer, they shall be decided by a court. To investigate the matter, the court may ask social services for additional information that is based on social work expertise and that would otherwise be difficult for the court to obtain. This is called a report on the family’s situation by social welfare authorities (Olosuhdeselvitykset tuomioistuimille).

Distribution of property

When a divorce case has become pending in the district court, each spouse may demand the distribution of the matrimonial assets. Provisions on the distribution of property only apply to a divorce.

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Services in a divorce situation

Services related to child custody, the child’s residence, right of access and child maintenance and the related agreement negotiations. Read more about the themes listed below by following the links.