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In Scandinavia, child custody is usually worked out between the parents and children. Money has a small or no influence on child custody decisions, because child support is a small, fixed amount to cover the basic needs of the child, not the needs of the parent. The is no financial windfall if one parent obtains primary custody, because the amount of child support generally does not exceed the cost of raising the child. Moreover, shared custody arrangements are common.
The following is taken from the Swedish government publication “Swedish Courts“:
“If the parents are married with each other, they both have custody of the child.
If the parents get married after the child’s birth, custody normally becomes joint as of the marriage.
The joint custody also continues in most cases if the parents get divorced.”
The U.S. system, in contrast, creates perverse financial incentives to “win” primary child custody. In the U.S., the “primary custodial parent” is awarded an amount of money that is in proportion to the non-custodial parent’s income, even if this amount is in vast excess of what is needed to raise the child. Moreover, the more custody time awarded to the custodial parent, the larger the child support payments. U.S courts have thus created a financial incentive for parents to fight over custody time.
By eliminating the financial incentive to “win” custody, the Scandinavians have taken the “fight” out of custody arrangements. Parents generally agree to a common sense arrangement that works for the family. Only rarely do Scandinavians hire lawyers or go to court because of a disagreement involving custody.