DIVISION OF PROPERTY, DIVORCE AND COHABITEE SEPARATION

There are many issues that need to be resolved in the event of a separation, regardless of whether you are getting a divorce or separating from your cohabitee. For example, who will continue to live in the home after the separation has been effected and how should this be arranged financially. Another common problem is how the business of one or both of the spouses should be valued.

As a first step, a division of property should be carried out when a marriage or a cohabitee relationship is dissolved. Before a division is made, there may be a need to ascertain which spouse or cohabitee will continue to live in the former joint home until the division has been completed (right to retain residency).

If the spouses or cohabitees are in agreement, a division of property can be completed by drawing up a division of property agreement. Disputes concerning divisions of property can often be both complicated and hostile, so it may be a good idea for you to contact us as soon as possible.

There may also be the need to draw up documents after a separation or divorce, for example a will to avoid a former partner being able to administer the remainder of your estate that your common minor children might inherit from you.

The attorneys at Advokatfirman Berg have extensive experience of assisting and supporting clients with all issues related to divorce or cohabitee separation, even those with an international element. We also work to provide advice prior to getting married or entering into a cohabitee relationship (further information about this can be found under the ‘Preventive family law’ tab) and, if required, we can draw up the appropriate documents.

INHERITANCE, WILLS AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION

INHERITANCE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION

In the event of death, the property of the deceased person needs to be managed and ultimately distributed among the heirs. The death of a close relative can be an extremely distressing time. In addition to this, the legal process is often complicated and there are a number of deadlines that must be met. There is thus great value in having an experienced attorney to provide advice and deal with legal and practical issues. It is not unusual for the distribution of inheritance and the implementation of a will to cause rifts and disputes within the family.

Advokatfirman Berg specialises in family property law and works as a representative in disputes concerning inheritance and wills. Our attorneys are also regularly appointed as executors of wills and estate administrators.

WILLS

There may sometimes be reason to question the validity or interpretation of a will. This may be done through an action for annulment or other civil proceedings at court. Consult us as soon as possible if you consider that a will puts you at a disadvantage or suspect that a will was not drawn up properly. There are sometimes time limits that must be considered to avoid you losing the right to an inheritance or the right to challenge a will.

ESTATE INVENTORIES

Drawing up an estate inventory is among the first thing that needs to be done when someone has died. An estate inventory is a written summary of the assets and liabilities of the deceased, and possibly their spouse. In some cases, the assets and liabilities of a surviving cohabitee also need to be included in the estate inventory.

An estate inventory also serves an important purpose as the identity document for the estate of the deceased, which means that it specifies who is entitled to represent the estate. Estate inventories must be registered with the Swedish Tax Agency.

DISTRIBUTION OF INHERITANCE

If the estate of a deceased person has more than one estate part owner, the estate must be wound up through a distribution of inheritance. The first step, if the deceased was married or a cohabitee, is for a division of property to be carried out. The distribution of inheritance is a written contract concerning how the remainder of the deceased’s estate is to be distributed and must be signed by all estate part owners. An application may be made to the District Court for the appointment of an estate distributor or estate administrator if the part owners cannot agree on the distribution or how the estate should be wound up.

Custody, residence and access relating to children

Disputes between parents about custody, residence and access are often infected and protracted. Many complex and unexpected issues may emerge along the way. It is therefore important for parents to engage an experienced attorney early on for support and to provide advice.

The parent who is not living with the children has an obligation to contribute towards the maintenance of the children to the best of their ability. This may be arranged by applying the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s provisions concerning maintenance support or after calculating reasonable maintenance according to the rules of the Children and Parents Code. Parents can regulate the maintenance though an agreement, although the court may rule on the issue of how much the maintenance allowance should be if they cannot agree. Cases relating to maintenance are processed by the court as a civil case, and may be resolved though agreement (settlement), which places greater demands on how the proceedings are handled than many other kinds of family law cases.

All of the attorneys at Advokatfirman Berg represent parents in disputes concerning children. We also regularly assist parents in matters under the Hague Convention concerning the return of children wrongfully removed (abducted) or retained abroad.

PREVENTIVE FAMILY LAW

It is important to know what will happen in the event of a divorce or cohabitee separation, if you yourself or your life partner dies or when you end up in a situation where you no longer have the capacity to make decisions. People running their own businesses often think about how they could protect their business in the case of a separation and how the business should be passed on within the family in the long term.

If is always better to consider what you would want to happen before a situation arises and, as far as is possible, draw up documents to create a sense of security about things turning out the way you wish in the event of both expected and unexpected future life situations. This can often be arranged, thereby avoiding any future costly disputes when a situation does indeed arise.

MARITAL PROPERTY AGREEMENTS AND COHABITATION AGREEMENTS

All of the assets a married couple should as a main rule be shared equally when the marriage is dissolved through divorce or death. An agreement may be reached through a marital property agreement that some or all of the property will be a spouse’s separate property (enskilda egendom) and therefore not be included in any future division of marital property. You may also regulate by a marital property agreement which country’s law should be applicable in the event of a division of marital property, which may be important if a spouse has links with other countries.

For cohabitees, a division of property only includes the joint home and household goods, acquired for joint use. You may agree through a cohabitation agreement that some or all of the cohabitee property should be exempted from a future division of property. One example of when many people want to draw up a cohabitation agreement is when the cohabitees have acquired a home but have made different financial contributions and/or have different ownership interests.

It is advisable to get the help of a family law attorney when drawing up these documents to ensure that they culminate in what was intended and that the formal requirements have been met. We regularly draw up marital property agreements and cohabitation agreements and also work to anticipate and resolve problems that may arise in various situations.

WILLS

A will can help you determine how your property should be distributed when you die, whether the property will be the ‘separate property’ (enskild egendom) of the heir and which country’s law applies in respect of issues relating to the inheritance. You may also decide on special administration for minor children and the appointment of an executor for the will. An executor for a will administers the estate of the deceased and ensures that the will is enforced. Extensive knowledge of inheritance law is required to ensure that this is done in the way you intended and that the will meets the applicable formal requirements. When drawing up your will, it is therefore important to get the help of an attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in this field.

CONTINUING POWER OF ATTORNEY

A continuing power of attorney gives an individual the opportunity to appoint someone to look after their personal and financial affairs if they cannot do this themselves later in life. A continuing power of attorney constitutes an alternative to an arrangement with a special representative and administrator. It supplements a normal power of attorney, and will remain in force should an individual become incapable of making decisions.

A family law attorney should assist when a continuing power of attorney is being drawn up as there are formal requirements for such a document and, for example, problems relating to conflicts of interest may arise between the holder of a power of attorney and the person who issued it. Advokatfirman Berg has extensive experience in this area and regularly assists clients with drawing up continuing powers of attorney and providing related advice.

GENERATIONAL PLANNING

Many business and family farms continue to be run across generations. Planning to transfer a business is a process that can be arranged over a long period and in several stages. Regardless of whether you would like a gradual transfer or a transfer at a certain point in time before or after your death, a number of complicated questions arise that must be planned for carefully to achieve the desired result.

GIFTS

Gifts are often given to close relations and in many cases are uncomplicated. However, gifts may have consequences that are difficult to predict as regards taxes and how the remainder of the estate will be distributed when the donor dies. Sometimes there are also formal requirements that must be fulfilled for the gift to be valid. If the donor wants to attach conditions to the gift, these need to be carefully thought through and properly formulated.

PATERNITY, MATERNITY AND PARENTHOOD

Ett föräldraskap kan behöva fastställas eller hävas av domstol. Den vanligaste typen av föräldraskapsärenden är när faderskapet till ett nyfött barn behöver fastställas av domstol, eftersom det inte kan fastställas genom faderskapsbekräftelse. I många fall behöver också ett felaktigt registrerat faderskap hävas av domstol, då modern vid barnets födelse var registrerad som gift med en annan man än den biologiske fadern. Emellertid finns det flera andra mer eller mindre komplicerade situationer där faderskap, moderskap eller föräldraskap behöver fastställas eller hävas. Så kan det vara även när ”barnet” är vuxet.

We have attorneys with many years’ experience of parental matters working at Advokatfirman Berg. We regularly work extensively as advisors and representatives for the Family Law Advice Services of several municipalities, but also have numerous private clients for this kind of matter.

ADOPTION AND SURROGATE ARRANGEMENTS

Adoptions for which the help of a family law attorney may be required include adoptions by family relatives, where the spouse in a marriage who is not the biological parent wants to adopt the other spouse’s child, and adult adoptions, where a child was actually brought up by someone other than the parent of the child.

Surrogate arrangements in foreign countries are becoming increasingly common. As Swedish law still does not permit surrogate arrangements, the legislation has not been adapted to a situation where a child comes to Sweden after a surrogate arrangement effected abroad. As the legislation has not been adapted to make provision for these children, a number of complicated issues arise regarding the establishment of parenthood, adoption and custody.

Advokatfirman Berg is one of a few law offices regularly assisting clients in matters resulting from surrogate arrangements abroad and adoption matters.

Criminal cases

PUBLIC DEFENCE

A person suspected of a crime is usually entitled to have public defence counsel. You are entitled to propose which attorney you wish to have appointed as your public defence counsel. Viktor Österberg, Attorney, has extensive experience of working as public defence counsel in criminal cases.

AGGRIEVED PARTY COUNSEL

When you have been the victim of a crime, you are often entitled to have an aggrieved party counsel and you are entitled to propose who you wish to have appointed as your aggrieved party counsel. Linda Friberger and Viktor Österberg, Attorneys, have extensive experience of working as aggrieved party counsel in criminal cases.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVES FOR CHILDREN

A child may have a special representative appointed for them when a custodian or someone with whom the custodian is in a close relationship is suspected of a crime against the child. This person must protect the child’s rights during the preliminary investigation by the police and then at court. Viktor Österberg and Linda Friberger, Attorneys, regularly undertake assignments as special representatives for children.

Dispute resolution

Private individuals and business operators sometimes find themselves in disputes. This can often be resolved through constructive talks, but it is also common that disagreements prove impossible to settle through negotiations. The dispute must then be resolved at court or by an arbitral tribunal.

Advokatfirman Berg has extensive experience of dispute resolution and, as your representative, will assist you by providing advice and support and handling the proceedings through all phases of the dispute. We are regularly engaged by private individuals and companies in disputes before courts and arbitral tribunals relating to

  • agreements and contracts
  • sales
  • damages
  • insurance
  • real property defects
  • home construction, building and improvement works
  • tenancies

Public law

CARE UNDER COMPULSORY CARE LEGISLATION

If a child or young person is at risk of coming to harm or suffering, the social services may apply for the young person to be afforded care in or outside the home under the Care of Young Persons (Special Provisions) Act (LVU). Such matters are considered by an administrative court where the child or young person is entitled to have public counsel. Public counsel is sometimes also appointed during the period of the investigation before the social services have concluded their assessment of what initiatives or care is necessary.

If a person has problems with substance abuse and is need of care because they, owing to their misuse problems, are placing themselves in serious jeopardy but are reluctant to submit to care voluntarily, the social services may apply for care under the Care of Alcoholics, Drug Abusers and Abusers of Volatile Solvents (Special Provisions) Act (LVM). The matter will be considered by an administrative court and the person to whom the application relates is entitled to have public counsel appointed for them.

A person suffering from a serious mental disorder may be admitted for care against their wishes. Such matters may also be considered by an administrative court and the individual is entitled to have public counsel.

We undertake assignments from the administrative courts as public counsel in cases concerning care under LVU, LVM and the Compulsory Mental Care Act (LPT). We also work with guiding clients through the investigations of the social services concerning a child’s needs (BBiC investigations).

LICENCES TO SERVE ALCOHOL AND LICENCES TO SELL TOBACCO

A person who wants to serve alcohol or sell tobacco must have a licence to do so from the municipal authority. The application process may be complicated for those unused to it. Let us help you with the application so that it is right first time. It is possible to appeal if the municipal authority has declined your application.

Advokatfirman Berg has extensive experience of proceedings challenging municipal authorities in respect of licences to serve alcohol and sell tobacco. We can also assist by providing advice prior to an application being submitted to the municipal authority.

EDUCATION MATTERS

Children living in Sweden are subject to a duty to attend school and it is the responsibility of their custodian to ensure that this duty is fulfilled. If a child is absent from school, the custodian may be ordered to fulfil their obligation subject to a default fine. When a family with children travels abroad for a period of time, issues may arise about whether the duty to attend school has been fulfilled and whether the school abroad meets the associated criteria. We at Advokatfirman Berg have experience of representing parents in such issues.

Special representatives under the Co-ownership Act

When property, for example real estate, is jointly owned by several people, all of the owners must, unless otherwise agreed through a joint-ownership agreement, agree on what measures should be taken in respect of the property, for instance whether it should be sold. If the part owners cannot agree, the district court may appoint a special representative to manage and/or sell the property. At Advokatfirman Berg we act for clients as representatives during such disputes, but also accept assignments as special representatives for managing and selling property under the Co-ownership Act.

International private law

Family law matters commonly concern cross-border issues, which means that people or property in more than one country is involved. What applies in these situations is regulated through ‘international private law’. There are primarily three problems that need to be resolved in such cases: which court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which country’s law should be applied, and can a judgment issued in one country be enforced in another country.

Each state regulates international private law through its own national legislation. However, there are a number of international conventions and agreements, not least within the EU, that may also come into play.

If a cross-border dispute arises, it is important to quickly engage an attorney who specialises in international private law. All of the attorneys at Advokatfirman Berg work extensively with such matters.