Glossary of legal terms

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Abductor

The person who takes a child illegally out of its country of habitual residence or who fails to return a child to its country of habitual residence following a stay/holiday abroad.

Appeal (of an order)

A re-examination of the case by a higher court.

Child abduction

The removal of a child from a country in breach of the custody rights of the left-behind parent. Lenke til left-behind parent. Refusing to return a child after a holiday or access visit abroad (retention) is also considered to be child abduction.

Child custody decision

Decision on rights of custody, rights of access and where a child shall live. The relevant rules are set out in the Norwegian Children Act.

Civil case

A legal civil dispute between private parties that is dealt with by a court. The child abduction conventions are classified as civil law instruments, and the return of children is considered a civil matter. However, criminal proceedings may also be brought against the abductor. See Child abduction is a criminal offence.

Convention

An internationally binding agreement between two or more countries. There are two international conventions on child abduction: the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the European Convention of 20 May 1980 on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children.

Country of habitual residence

The country in which a child was habitually resident before the abduction.

Court fee

A fee charged in connection with court proceedings, calculated according to a standard fee scale. No court fee is charged in child abduction cases.

Court of appeal (Lagmannsrett)

Courts of appeal consider appeals against the decisions taken by the district courts. More information about courts of appeal can be found at www.domstol.no.

Criminal case

Legal proceedings concerning breaches of penal provisions in the Norwegian General Civil Penal Code or other legislation. Child abduction is a criminal offence, see section 216 of the Norwegian General Civil Penal Code. There is further information on this subject under Child abduction is a criminal offence.

Court Order

Decisions in child abduction cases take the form of an order (kjennelse), rather than a judgment (dom).

Custody

The question of who has custody of a child that is resident in Norway follows either directly from the Norwegian Children Act, or is determined by an agreement between the child’s parents, a decision by the child welfare authorities, or a court decision. Further information on this subject can be found under the Norwegian Children Act and What is child abduction?

District court (Tingrett)

This is the court of first instance. Each district court is responsible for a particular area, or judicial district, consisting of one or several municipalities. Further information on district courts can be found at www.domstol.no.

Enforcement authorities

The enforcement officer and the district court. These decide on and carry out enforcement proceedings.

Enforcement officer (Namsmann)

The enforcement officer enforces court judgments and orders. In areas that have a “lensman” (rural police officer), this responsibility rests with him/her. In towns and other places where there is no “lensman”, the bailiff usually also serves as enforcement officer. The decisions taken by the enforcement officer can be appealed to the district court.

Free legal assistance during legal proceedings

Free legal aid in civil court proceedings, i.e. where the costs of legal assistance are paid fully or in part by the State. See Chapter III of the Act relating to free legal aid. Certain conditions must be fulfilled in order to qualify for free legal assistance. Further information on this subject can be found under Covering legal costs.

Free legal advice

Free legal aid outside of court proceedings, i.e. legal advice paid for fully or in part by the State. See Chapter II of the Act relating to free legal aid. Certain conditions must be fulfilled in order to qualify for free legal advice. Further information on this subject can be found under Covering legal costs.

Free legal aid

Legal aid that is fully or partly paid by the State. Free legal aid takes the form of either free legal advice or free assistance during legal proceedings. Further information on this subject can be found under Covering legal costs.

Left-behind (person)

The person who has (sole or) part of the parental responsibility over the child, whose rights have been breached by the abduction of that child and who seeks the child’s return. This person is generally one of the parents, although in some cases it may be another party, such as the child welfare authorities.

Legal advice

See free legal advice.

Legal adviser

A person who is authorised to provide legal advice.

Receiving State

The country to which a child is abducted and from which its return is sought.

Retention

Failure to return a child to its country of habitual residence following a stay/holiday abroad. Retention is subject to the same rules as abduction, and the term “abduction” is therefore often used for both.

Right of access

Children and parents have right of access to one another. The rules on access can be found in Chapter 6 of the Norwegian Children Act. Children are entitled to spend time with both parents, even if the parents do not live together. The parents have a joint responsibility to ensure that access rights are respected. If the parents cannot agree about access, they may refer the matter to the county governor and, if necessary, to the courts. The parents are required to attend mediation (see section 51 of the Children Act) before referring the matter to the county governor or the courts.

Settlement

The resolution of a dispute by agreement between the parties. If a settlement is agreed in court (in-court settlement), it becomes final and binding (i.e. has the status of a legally enforceable decision).

State of origin

The country in which the child was habitually resident before the abduction. See Country of habitual residence.

Supreme Court (Høyesterett)

The Supreme Court is the highest court in Norway. The Supreme Court deals with appeals against decisions taken by lower courts. The Supreme Court hears both civil and criminal cases, and has jurisdiction in all areas of law. Further information can be found at www.domstol.no

Supreme Court Appeals Committee

The Appeals Committee is a separate court, where cases are heard by a panel of three Supreme Court judges. The Committee serves as a filter for all cases appealed to the Supreme Court, and decides which appeals will be heard. It also gives final judgments on interlocutory appeals. The Appeals Committee conducts all of its proceedings in writing, and makes its decisions on the basis of the documents submitted in the case.

Suspension/ suspensive effect

The postponement of the execution of a decision pending the outcome of an appeal. The courts may decide to suspend the implementation of an administrative decision or a legal decision when one party has appealed the decision. A decision by the district court to suspend implementation may be appealed.

Time limit for filing an appeal

The time limit for filing an appeal against a court order.

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