Lawyer Monthly - October 2023

What are the principles of Finnish legislation regarding children? Finland has in place a Child Custody and Right of Access Act designed to find a solution that is in the best interest of each individual child when decisions are made on child custody, residence and right of access. The Child Maintenance Act stipulates that a child is entitled to be supported by the parents until he/she reaches the age of 18. Parents are responsible for their child’s maintenance according to their resources, and under Finnish law, the parent who has access to the child is usually required to pay maintenance to contribute towards the child’s living expenses. One of the objectives of the Finnish Child Welfare Act, as amended in 2019, is to protect children from becoming unwitting victims of disputes between parents. In child care and custody proceedings, it is the parents who are the actual interested parties to the case, but the law includes provisions requiring that the opinion and wishes of the child be ascertained, usually in the form of a report prepared by the social services in response to a request from a district court. How are decisions on a child’s situation made when their parents are divorcing? Finnish law does not contain provisions on any mandatory agreement on the arrangement of a child’s circumstances in case of parental separation. After a divorce, the parents may make a spoken or written agreement on child care and custody, access rights, residence and maintenance. Alternatively, they may draw up a written agreement on these matters in consultation with the local child welfare officer, who is responsible for ensuring that the agreement is in the Child Custody Disputes in Finland Thought Leader Because of the expense, time consumption and mental strain that litigation often places upon its participants, alternative dispute resolution methods are often sought for family law matters. Mediation has proven a popular solution in Finland, as Anne Liakka outlines in this article. What advantages does mediation offer, and how can legal counsel work to enhance the process? The Primacy of Mediation 64 LAWYER MONTHLY OCTOBER 2023

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