Swedish family and succession laws recognise three forms of couples’ relationships:
MARRIAGE between persons of opposite and same sex
REGISTERED UNIONS same-sex registered unions not converted into marriage
DE FACTO COHABITATION PARTNERSHIP between persons of opposite and same sex
The main legal sources of family law are the Marriage Code, the Children and Parents Code, the Inheritance Code and the Cohabitees Act. Often, the Name Act is also considered as family law. These codes and acts provides a comparatively exhaustive regulation on many legal family matters.
The general principles of the law concerning family law and inheritance law are equally applicable to spouses and cohabitants without any distinction. In particular, there is the freedom of individuals to unite in marriage to access registered partnerships or to create cohabitation regardless of gender.
The legislation accepts the principle of gender neutrality in family law and in inheritance law.
De facto cohabitation marriages and partnerships between persons of the same or between persons of the opposite sex are therefore recognised. The marriage code and the discipline on registered partnerships also include relationships between transgender and intersex individuals.
Unions registered between same-sex persons not converted into marriage are also recognised.
Some discriminations persist in order of the subsidiary or inheritance rights. In particular, family law in Sweden regarding parents and children is still oriented towards heterosexual nuclear families and cohabitants do not receive the same succession treatment as subjects united in marriage or registered partnerships.
Links to applicable regulations
With regard to the matrimonial property regime, the spouses must each contribute to the needs of the other spouse.
The legal property regime of matrimonial property is the deferred community of the property regime. The deferred property regime grants each spouse the right to half the net value of marital property following the dissolution of the marriage. Spouses may be holders of personal property therefore not included in the deferred community ownership regime. The asset is considered the spouse's personal in the case of an express agreement between spouses to exclude from the communion a purchased good or because of a good received by one of the spouses by donation or inheritance. Spouses in constant marriage remain the exclusive owners of their personal assets. They are free to make decisions about their property with the exception of certain restrictions concerning the disposal of common housing and property for the spouses' home.
Those who are united in marriage or those who will be future spouses can through a matrimonial property contract establish that certain goods belonging to or purchased by one of them must be considered the exclusive personal property of only one of the spouses rather than falling in conjugal property. The marital property contract must be drawn up in written and recorded form.
The dissolution of the marriage bond entails the dissolution of the property regime of the deferred community and the division of property. A part necessary to cover the debts of the family and spouses must be deducted from marital property prior to the division. The balance of the conjugal patrimony after deduction of the sum necessary to cover any debts will be divided equally between the spouses. Although the rule to divide the assets in equal parts is dispositive and therefore can be canceled by an express agreement between the spouses.
In the event of the death of one of the spouses the surviving spouse belongs to the first class of heirs with the right to free disposition.
A surviving spouse is also guaranteed by law a part of the inheritance of the deceased spouse. This is regardless of the presence of any children or testamentary dispositions. The basic value (basbeloppsregeln) guaranteed to the surviving spouse is however of very limited financial value (4 times the base amount which in 2019 would be around 182,000 Swedish crowns or around 18,000 euros).
SAME-SEX REGISTERED UNIONS NOT CONVERTED IN TO MARRIAGE
As a consequence of the changes in law there are different situations possible fo same-sex couples.
For same-sex couples it was possible to register a partnership from the year 1995 to 2009. Subsequently, the marriage was made independent of the gender of the subjects. Individuals of the same sex were therefore able to enter marriage from 2009 onwards. The subjects united in registered unions had the faculty, starting in 2009, to request the conversion of their union into marriage. The partnership registered for homosexual unions is no longer in use. There are still registered unions not converted into marriage.
The registered partnership law continues to produce legal effects,including in relation to property, for couples who joined the partnership before the end of April 2009 and who did not convert their partnership into marriage. Starting in 2009, the subjects united in same sex registered unions not converted into marriage enjoy the same rights as married couples.
The same inheritance rights granted to married persons were recognized in the same sex registered unions.
DE FACTO COHABITATION PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PERSONS OF OPPOSITE AND SAME SEX
The cohabitation is a de facto family union recognized between persons of opposite and same sex. Two subjects are considered cohabiting if they have a couple relationship, are habitually living together and share a common family nucleus. The patrimonial regime between individuals forming the de facto cohabitation is based on the relative discipline contained in the Marriage Code.
However the building used as a dwelling and the goods purchased for this purpose may be subject to division. The parties to the de facto cohabitation can conclude matrimonial property contracts in which it is established that certain goods belonging to or purchased by one of them must be considered the exclusive personal property of one of the spouses rather than falling in conjugal property. The marital property contract must be drawn up in writing.
In the case of dissolution of the cohabitation, a division of property takes place only upon the request of one (or both) cohabitants.
In the event of the death of one of the de facto cohabitation partnership members, the surviving member does not have the right to inherit the assets of the deceased partner. However, each member of the de facto cohabitation partnership can make a will in favor of the other partner.