Court proceedings concerning parental disputes

Out of regard for the child, it is important that the parents pay attention to the child’s needs, and cooperate well on their role as parents. Research shows that a prolonged high level of conflict in the home may be harmful for children.

Parents who are not living together are free to agree on arrangements regarding their children. However, the best interests of the child and the child's needs must be the primary consideration in such agreements, and co-operation must be emphasized. Cf. Guidance from The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs best interests of the child. Parental responsibility is a requirement for having custody (cf. the child's place of residence), either alone or jointly. Learn more about Parental responsibility

The Family Counselling Service may assist in drafting and amending such agreements, and provide guidance and support for parents who need to strengthen their parental cooperation. Learn more about mediation and suppert to families provided by the Family Counselling Service.

Parents who fail to reach agreement on parental responsibility, international relocation, custody (the child's place of residence) or access may bring a case to court. The provisions concerning parental disputes are laid down in chapter 7 ff. of the Children Act. Learn more about Parental responsibility, custody and access in cross-border cases.

Mediation is mandatory before bringing such an action. The judge is also obliged to consider the possibility of reaching a settlement between the parties and to facilitate such a settlement. The judge may return a case for further mediation at the Family Counselling Service.

The best interests of the child must be the primary consideration in agreements and judicial decisions regarding parental responsibility, international relocation, custody (the child's place of residence) or access. The best interests of the child in any individual case must be decided on the basis of an overall assessment of the case in question. It is prescribed by law that weight shall be given to the child’s opinion when considering such matters. Learn more about the Best interests of the child.

When considering what is best for the child, legal practice seems to ascribe particular importance to certain factors in deciding the child's place or residence, in particular; the child’s opinions, regard for the best possible total parental contact, the risk associated with a change of environment, the child’s emotional attachment to each of the parents, stable conditions in the home and future care prospects. The court may only order joint custody when special reasons so indicate.

If access is not in the best interests of the child, the court must decide that there shall be no access. The court may also stipulate conditions for access. The court may make access conditional upon the supervision of a publicly appointed supervisor. One reason for amendments to the Children Act in 2013 cf. Prop. 85 L (2013-3014) was to clarify when the court must decide that there shall be no access, not even under supervision. The Children Act also states that the court may stipulate conditions for access, such as control of substance abuse, participation in anger management programmes, etc.

More information about supervised contact visits is available here.