Article | Last updated: 09/02/2021 | Ministry of Children and Families
Parents are free to agree on arrangements regarding parental responsibility, the child's place of residence, and access and contact arrangements. In the event of a separation, married and cohabiting parents with children under the age of 16 are obliged to attend mediation. Mediation provides assistance for parents in order to reach agreements which are in the best interests of the child.
Provisions concerning the child's place of residence and contact arrangements are found in Chapters 5 and 6 of the Children Act.
The child's place of residence
Parents who separate must agree on the child's place of residence, paying regard to the best interests of the child. Furthermore, parental responsibility is a requirement for having custody (cf. the child's place of residence), either alone or jointly. Learn more about Parental responsibility. However, the parent with custody of the child, can make major decisions concerning important aspects of the child's care, such as whether the child is to attend a day care institution and where in Norway the child is to live. Provisions concerning the child's place of residence are found in Sections 36 ff. of the Children Act.
Parents may agree on joint custody. Joint custody is an arrangement whereby the child has place of residence with both parents. In this event, the child spends (approximately) an equal amount of time with each of the parents. In this case, decisions concerning important aspects of the child's care (including moving within Norway), require the consent of both parents. One important condition for joint custody, cf. the best interests of the child, is that parents are able to agree on major decisions concerning the child's care.
If the parents disagree on the child's place of residence, parents can bring the case to court, and the court will make a decision. Learn more about Parental disputes. The court may only order joint custody when special reasons so indicate.
Access and contact arrangements
The child has right of access to both parents even if they live apart. The child is entitled to consideration from persons currently taking care of the child. The parent who has right of access can make decisions concerning care of the child during contact visits. The parent who has right of access shall, as far as possible, be allowed to express an opinion prior to decisions by the parent who has parental responsibility that will render it impossible or considerably more difficult to exercise the right of access. Parents may agree on contact for other persons, for example grandparents. Only if one or both of the parents are deceased, relatives of the child or other persons who are close to the child may request the court to establish whether they shall have right of access to the child, and the extent of such access.
The Children Act states that the parents are to agree on the extent of the right of access or contact regard being paid to the best interest of the child. In any agreement or decision regarding contact, importance shall be attached, among other things, to ensuring the best possible overall contact between the child and his or her parents, the age of the child, the degree to which the child is attached to the local neighbourhood, the distance that must be travelled between the parents and the child’s interests in all other respects. Learn more about the best interests of the child, and the child’s right to participate in decisions and to make their own decisions.
Conditions for access may be imposed in agreements, including supervision of a person the child has confidence in. The parents may also agree that contact is subject to assistance from the child welfare service, a psychologist or other. In the event of a parental dispute before court, the court can decide that contact be supervised by a publicly appointed supervisor. Link provided below.
Provisions concerning moving within Norway are found in Section 37 of the Children Act. The parent with custody of the child can decide to move with the child within Norway. If one of the parents wants to move, and an agreement or decision has been made regarding access, the parent who intends to move shall notify the other parent three months prior to the move at the latest. Learn more about Children moving or travelling abroad.