ChildrenFamily Law

The functioning of parental authority 


  • The principe

Parental authority may be joint or exclusive. However, since 1 July 2014, Swiss law provides that parental authority is joint. Such a decision was taken for the good of the child. Thus, married spouses have joint parental authority from the birth of the child. The same principle applies after divorce and for unmarried couples. 

However, if the welfare of the child so warrants, the court may decide to grant exclusive parental authority to one of the parents. Judges may also decide to withdraw parental authority if the interests of the child so require (e.g. alcohol or drug abuse, sexual abuse). The parent who does not have parental authority has the right to maintain personal relations with his or her child and to be informed of the various events in the child’s life.

  • The content

Parental authority entails a number of obligations that parents must respect. They must take important decisions for the development of their children. They must also ensure their education and the proper administration of their children’s property. Finally, children must be involved in decisions that concern them to an extent appropriate to their age. Indeed, their views should be taken into account as far as possible.

  • The case of separated parents

Please note that having joint parental authority does not mean that custody is automatically shared. However, you can always apply for alternating custody to the divorce court or to the competent adult and child protection authority, if you have never been married.


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