Divorce in Finland

Finnish law does not include a showing-of-fault requirement for divorce. The couple can file for divorce together or one party can file alone.  There is required contemplation period of 6 to 12 months or two years seperation period.

The parents agree among themselves how to arrange the children’s housing, custody and maintenance as well as meetings between the child and the remote parent.The municipal child welfare officer or a court of law confirms the agreement between the parents.   If the parents cannot come to an agreement in these matters concerning the child, either of them can request a decision of a court of law.

 

Child custody  

Both or only one of the parents may have custody of the child. Joint custodians decide jointly on the child’s domicile and residence, name, health care, schooling, day care services, religion and native language.  Both parents' signature is required for the child's passport application. Both custodians have the right to obtain information on the child from the authorities, such as day care, school, health care, etc.

The parents can also request from the district court a decision on the division of labour between the parents. This is called limited joint custody. In this case, the matters the parents can decide upon together are listed separately, while other matters remain to be decided by the parent living with the child.

 If the parents do not make an agreement on parental authority, they maintain the joint parental authority they had during their partnership.  If the parents are not married at the time of birth of the child, the mother is the child’s single parent.

After the confirmation of paternity, however, the parents can agree with the social services on joint custody of the child or request a hearing in district court in a possible dispute situation between the parents.

 

Visiting the child

The child has the right to meet the parent living elsewhere.  The parents can agree on the times and places of meeting the child in the manner they desire.  Sometimes the visiting can also be arranged in the presence of another person.  Municipalities and organisations have supervised meeting places for this.  The child meeting agreement can also be drafted for a fixed term.

If the parents do not comply with the agreement on the care, housing or visiting rights of the child, a court of law can request enforcement arbitration from the social services.  Usually the purpose of arbitration is to make the parents comply with the agreement voluntarily.

 

The child support

Both parents must participate in their child’s maintenance according to their maintenance capacity.  The parent living separately pays his or her share in cash to an account to which the parent living with the child has the right of use.  He or she also decides how the maintenance payment is used, and he or she need not render account for purchases to the remote parent.

If the parents cannot reach unanimity on the sum, the parent living with the child must seek child support on the child’s behalf from the district court.  The court of law usually orders the maintenance to be paid from the date of institution of the petition.

 

How much you pay maintenance?

The Ministry of Justice prepared a recommendatory instruction on the assessment of the amount of child support in 2007 http://www.om.fi/omju20072.htm. The calculation model first defines the child’s need for maintenance, which is divided in relation to the parents’ maintenance capacity.

 

CHILD’S NEED = TOTAL OF GENERAL AND PARTICULAR COSTS -  DEDUCTIONS

General costs:

either for 0 - 6 years old 291 euros per month
or for 7 - 12 years old 338 euros per month
or for 13 - 17 years old 455 euros per month

Particular costs:

The near parent’s share of net dwelling costs (= rent or condominium charges, house loan instalments and interests - housing allowance, or the like) 1 child 23%, 2 children 19%/child, 3 children 16%/child and 7 children 10%/child
Day care costs as such (if the costs are greater than those of public day care, both parents must be unanimous on the use of special day care; otherwise it is considered reasonable).
A schoolchild’s afternoon and morning activity costs as such.                                          (-”-)
Schooling costs (e.g., term fees of a school of a different medium, books of upper secondary school) (-“-)
Costs of a particular hobby (which both parents consider important for the child or which is otherwise considered reasonable)
Insurance payments (which the parents have taken out jointly or which both consider important or which is otherwise considered reasonable)
Special health care costs
Other
special costs


Deductions

Child benefit (without increase for single parent, the average of all child benefits received by the parent)
The child’s earned income (only if he or she wholly moves to working life, not just income from summer jobs, or the like)
The child’s capital income (very rarely and with strict conditions; NB legislation on guardianship)

 

Parents’ maintenance capacity

Both parents’ maintenance capacity is calculated in almost the same way. The only difference is that the child's share is deducted from the near parent's dwelling costs. The parent’s maintenance capacity is based on the income received by him or her or his or her possibility to obtain income. Most often are considered the net earned or business income, pension income, student grant, adult student grant and daily unemployment benefit. Daily allowances and kilometre allowances are not taken into account, but the taxation value of fringe benefits (for example, housing and lunch benefit and benefit from the use of a company car) is. Spouse’s alimony paid by virtue of the Marriage Act is also considered income. Income support, housing allowance (taken into account in dwelling costs), study loan, subsistence allowance of unemployment benefit and disability allowance (taken into account in special health care costs) are not counted as earnings.

The parent’s general costs of living (583 euros or 490 euros, if the parent lives in a new partnership), net dwelling costs, special health care costs, commuting expenses, study loan instalments and expenses incurred from other maintenance liabilities (other own children under 18 years, in some cases also the spouse) are deducted from earnings.

 

II NEAR PARENT’S MAINTENANCE CAPACITY = EARNINGS - DEDUCTIONS

Earnings and wealth

Net earned income

Net income from business activity
Net pension income
Social benefits (excluding income support)
Child benefit increase for single parent                                    
Income from capital and dividends
Other income
Parent’s wealth belonging to other than basic security (= own dwelling, car necessary for work, or the like)

Deductions

General costs of living 583 euros (or 490 euros for a parent in marriage or in common-law marriage)
Dwelling costs as such (e.g., loan instalments and interests, condominium charge, rent, electricity and water charge, other dwelling cost)
- Housing allowance, and the like, are deducted from these, giving the net dwelling costs.
- If the parent lives in marriage or in common-law marriage, dwelling costs are halved.
- The child’s share of dwelling costs is deducted.
Net special health care costs (= real costs minus disability benefits).
Commuting expenses (according to public transport; if there are none or the work otherwise requires the use of own car, 0.21 euros/km for 21.5 days a month are taken into account. If the tax benefit of commuting is considerable, it must be deducted first.)

Debt servicing expenses (primarily study loan; house loan is taken into account under dwelling costs)
Parent’s other maintenance liability
- Only general costs (291, 338 or 455 euros) are taken into account as expenses of other own children under 18, and child benefit is not deducted from them. Instead, the alimony or maintenance or half orphan’s pension received by the child is deducted from the general costs. If the parent lives with the child’s other parent, the expenses are halved. If the child has been born from the spouse’s earlier relationship, he or she is not taken into account.
- If the spouse is unable to work due to an illness or disability and takes care of the couple’s common child, a spouse allowance of 490 euros and a half of dwelling costs may be obtained for him or her. A maximum of 244 euros can, respectively, be deducted for a co-habiting partner, if he or she takes care of the couple’s common children at home.
The child’s meeting expenses
(Expenses under 117 euros or over 234 euros per month per child are not taken into account. For example, if the meeting expenses are 130 euros per month, a deduction of 13 euros is taken into account

 

III REMOTE PARENT’S MAINTENANCE CAPACITY

Same as near parents but the child’s share of dwelling costs are not deducted.

IV REMOTE PARENT’S DEDUCTION FOR CARE OF THE CHILD

  under 7 yrs 7 – 12 yrs over 13 yrs
1. average 7 – 9 nights per month 30.50 32.50 36.00 euros
2. average 10 – 12 nights per month 41.50 44.00 50.00 euros
3. average 13 – 15 nights per month 53.00 57.00 62.50 euros

If the child support is confirmed  to be less than the child maintenance allowance, the child receives the difference as a supplementary, non-compensable child maintenance allowance from the Social Insurance Institution.  There must be a mention in the agreement that the smallness of the child support is due to the payer’s insolvency, in order for the child to receive a supplementary child maintenance allowance.  Child support is non-taxable income on the use of which the near custodian decides at his or her discretion.  The payer of child support benefits from a tax deduction for the obligation to provide maintenance.