Child abduction is a criminal offence

Child abduction is regulated under Section 216 of the Norwegian General Civil Penal Code. Abduction from the person who has parental responsibility is a criminal offence.

It is also an offence to abduct a child from the Child Welfare Services or foster parents following a care order. You can read more about this under Abduction from the Child Welfare Services.

A care order need not have been implemented, it is sufficient that the care order has been issued. The penalty is imprisonment for up to three years.

Reporting the abductor

You should consider carefully whether you want to report the abductor. A criminal case will make it even more difficult for the parents to agree on access and care following child abduction.

For some parents, being reported to the police will make them realise the seriousness of what they have done, so that they return the child voluntarily. For others, it will reinforce the breach of trust between the parents and exacerbate the dispute further.

A police investigation assumes that the remaining parent reports the abductor to the police or that the police consider initiating an investigation.

If a child has been abducted and the offence has been reported or the matter is under investigation, the police will be able to issue a warrant through the police channels for the arrest of the abductor and a request that the person in question be apprehended and extradited to Norway.

For further information regarding the police and reporting to the police, visit

Report the child missing

You may report the child missing to the police through a missing person’s report. The same applies to the abductor. Even if the abduction has not been reported or the matter is under investigation, the police will be able to initiate a search for the child and the abductor to locate them.

New General Civil Penal Code

In the new General Civil Penal Code, which has not come into effect yet, the penalty for aggravated deprivation of care has been increased to six years. In most cases, international child abduction will be regarded as an aggravated offence. In connection with entry into force of the new General Civil Penal Code, it will also be considered whether the criminal provision shall be amended further.

Relationship between civil and criminal law

Pursuant to Section 40 of the Children Act, if parents have joint custody, a parent cannot move the child abroad without the consent of the other parent. Consequently, moving the child without the consent of the other parent who has joint custody will be a criminal offence in accordance with the Children Act, regardless of whether the parent who has moved is the non-custodial or the custodial parent.

The Hague Convention only applies to children who are under 16 years of age, whereas the criminal provisions apply up to the child has reached 18 years of age. For children in the 16-18 year age group, child abduction could be an offence even if under the Hague Convention it cannot be prosecuted under civil law.

Compulsory schooling

It is a criminal offence to keep a child of school age away from school. The Education Act states that children and young people have an obligation and right to primary and lower secondary education. If a pupil is absent from compulsory school attendance, the parents or others who have custody / parental responsibility for the pupil may be fined. You can read more about this in the Education Act.