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Transferring custody from birth parents to foster parents – an ambiguous matter

Journal article
Authors Therese Wissö
Helena Johansson
Published in Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Volume 40
Issue 3
Pages 321-339
ISSN 1469-9621
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Social Work
Pages 321-339
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1080/09649069.2018.14936...
Keywords Foster care, custody transfer, contact, children’s view, court decision, social work
Subject categories Social Work

Abstract

In this study, we analyse 32 district court decisions regarding custody transfers from the birth parents to the foster parents in Sweden. When a child has been in foster care for three years, in order to enhance stability for child, the local social welfare committee considers a transferral of custody to the foster parents following an application to the district court. Although all but one of the decisions in our study favoured a custody transfer, the courts acknowledge different reasons for this. Specifically, there is vagueness about whether or not functioning contact between the child and birth parents is a hindrance in custody transfer. Our findings stress the need for clarification in the law regarding the criteria for custody transfer in order to reach a more unified judgment. Furthermore, the district courts do not sufficiently acknowledge children’s views, and we suggest that children and young people should be made more visible in the decision-making process.

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