Living in Finland


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Children of parents who are in a common-law relationship

Acknowledgement of paternity (Isyyden tunnustaminen)

If you are living in a common-law relationship and you have a child, the child’s paternity must be acknowledged. If paternity is not acknowledged, the child is officially fatherless and the mother is alone responsible for the child’s maintenance and care, even if you live together. A man can acknowledge his paternity during the pregnancy at a maternity clinic. When the child is born, paternity can be acknowledged at your municipality’s child welfare supervisor’s office. Paternity is confirmed by the Local Register Office.

When paternity has been confirmed

  • the child can be given the father’s name
  • the father can act as the child’s guardian either together with the mother or alone. A guardian (huoltaja) is a person who is responsible for a child’s care and upbringing.
  • the father is obliged to participate in the child’s maintenance
  • the child has inheritance rights in relation to his or her father and paternal family and vice versa
  • the child has a right to survivors' pension if the father dies

If the father does not acknowledge his paternity, the mother can bring suit against him for the confirmation of paternity.

linkkiMinistry of Social Affairs and Health:
Acknowledging and confirming paternityFinnish | Swedish

Child’s last name in a common-law relationship

When a child is born in a common-law relationship, the child can have

  • the mother’s last name, or
  • the father’s last name if paternity has been confirmed, or
  • the parents’ common last name, or
  • a double last name formed by combining the parents’ last names.

If the parents do not have a common last name but they have children together, the child will have the same last name as his/her siblings.

You can apply for a common last name with your common-law spouse if

  • you have lived together for at least five years, or
  • you have a child together.

Adoption in a common-law relationship

A common-law husband and wife cannot adopt a child together. It is also not possible to adopt the common-law wife or husband’s child as their child.

International agreements

The acknowledgement of paternity confirmed by an authority in another Nordic country (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) is valid also in Finland.

The confirmation of paternity that has taken place in another country outside the Nordic countries can be accepted in Finland if the paternity decision is valid in the country where it was confirmed and the child’s parents have lived in that country.

The position of children born out of wedlock is very different in different countries. The paternity confirmed in Finland is not necessarily valid in the child’s or father’s country of origin. Ask about it at your own country’s Diplomatic Mission.

Inheritance tax and spouse’s pension

If a common-law husband and wife have a child together, inheritance tax is the same for the child as for a child born in wedlock.

If a spouse dies, the common-law wife’s or husband’s children can receive spouse’s pension from Kela.