Best interests defined
The best interests are factors that are targeted towards ensuring the child optimum happiness, safety, development and advancement.
The best interests of the child are the major determinant of the custody of the child in cases of Custody dispute (Vårdnadstvist).
Areas important for the best interests of the child
- The child’s identity, age, personal history (background) and gender.
- The child’s opinion and future plans.
- The proper care, protection and adequate safety of the child.
- The child’s social relation with peers and adults.
- The skills and dynamic capacities of the child.
- The advancement of the child as well as consistent evolution into adulthood and a life of independence.
- The vulnerable circumstances of the child. These are the risks the child is facing and plans in place for protection and empowerment.
- The child’s fundamental right and need in relation to adequate health and education.
- The overall well-being of the child.
- The family environment as well as relations and contact with family.
- Any other important certain needs of the child.
Determinations of Best interests of child
These are processes officially conducted with the interference of public authorities and expert decision makers. The purpose of the best interests' determination is to make a decision that is dependent on the Swedish law that protects the rights of the child as well as promotes overall well-being, developed and protection. The officials tasked with the responsibility of making a decision put all important factors into consideration as well as the rights of the child’s and the duties of the public authorities and service care providers towards the child. The determinations are carried out in situations whereby the circumstances at stake could have a lasting impact in the child's present and future life.
Safeguards in determinations of best interests
- The right to the child to express opinions and to have the opinions taken into consideration. In any legal procedure, a child has the right to be heard and have their opinions taken into account. The hearing of the child needs to be put into documentation with a distinct analysis of how the child’s opinions are out against other factors. The grade of communication has to be sensitive towards the child and effective for precise interpretation. The child is entitled to a hearing in court and the hearing should be held promptly in a way that puts the child sensitivity into consideration. The child’s age, history and gender needs to be put into consideration.
- The child has a right to an independent representative who is competent to work towards the child’s best interests.
- The child is entitled to a legal representation when the best interests are legally decided by a court.
- The child has a right to appeal legally. The child needs access to legal representation and assistance to appeal a decision.
- Formal mechanisms to review decisions on the best interests of a child must be put in place. The child needs access to assistance in accessing and utilizing mechanisms put in place to review the best interests of the child.