Norway ratifies the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention

Norway's ratification of the 1996 Hague Convention will strengthen co-operation with other states in cross-border parental disputes and child welfare cases. The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs is designated as Central Authority for the Convention in Norway. The Convention will enter into force 1 July 2016.

- The child welfare services will have new tools to handle child welfare cases when children have ties to other states. The Central Authority will assist the child welfare services in their dialouge with foreign authoritites. This will enable more cases to be solved in the best interest of the child, says Minister of Children and Equality MS. Solveig Horne.

Norway joins the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children. The Convention provides for co-operation and exchange of information in individual cases between the Contracting States. Each State shall designate a Central Authority which has a key role in the ongoing co-operation in individual cases persuant to the Convention. The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs is designated as Central Authority for the Convention in Norway. The Convention has over 40 Member States, including all the states in the European Union.

The Minister is content that Norway now is ratifying the Convention. The Convention will increase the protection of children in cross-border parental disputes and child welfare cases. A child welfare case can i.a.be transfered from Norway to another Contracting State if this is in the child's best interest.

- The Convention's rules and mechanisms facilitate access and contact between parent and child in cases where the child relocates with the other parent to another state. The Convention may prevent child abduction as the Convention can provide solutions in cross-border parental conflicts. The Convention can provide for more long-term care solutions for the child, says Horne.

Parental responsibility and measures for the protection of children

The Convention applies to measures for the protection of children, in particular judicial or administrative decisions regarding parental responsibility, custody, access and guardinship. Furthermore, it applies to decisions regarding the placement of a child in a foster family or in institutional care, and decisions regarding the administration of the child's property. Additionaly, the Convention applies to parental responsibility by operation of law.

The Convention determines the Contraction State whose authorities have jurisdicion to take measures of protection. The primary rule of jurisdiction in the Convention is that measures of protection in relation to children should be taken by the judicial/administrative authorities of the Contraction State of the habitual residence of the child.  However, in cases of urgency, the authorities of any Contracting State in whose territory the child or property is present, have jurisdiction to take any necessary measures of protection. Independently of cases of urgency, the Convention provides a specific and limited basis for jurisdiction for the State in whose territory the child or property is present, to take provisional measures. By way of exception, the Convention provides mechanisms by which jurisdiction can be transferred, to a Contracting State that is better placed to assess the best interests of the child in the particular case. Additionally, the Convention regulates applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions.

Entering into force

The Convention enters into force for Norway 1 July 2016. This applies correspondingly to the Norwegian 1996 Hague Convention Law, including amendments to the Children Act, the Child Welfare Act and the Marriage Act that aim to safeguard that Norwegian law is in accordance with the rules and the objectives of the Convention.

Amendments to the Children Act and the Children Welfare Act

Amendments to the Children Act, entering into force 1 July 2016, entail i.a. a clarification of the rule that applies to cases where a parent with parental responsibility has agreed to a time-limited stay for the child in another State; any prolonged or altered stay, requires agreement. Additionally, children aged 12 moving or travelling to other States without a parent with parental responsibility, must consent to this. Amendments to the Children Act further entail that a parent will be entitled to seek a court decision in order to relocate with the child to another state - in cases where parents do not agree upon relocation.

Amendments to the Children Welfare Act, entering into force 1 July 2016, entails i.a. that parents may agree to the  placement of a child in a foster family or in institutional care in another Contracting State. It is a requirement that parents and children above 12 years consent to the placement.