Denmark: Family Law

This office handles many international family law cases that have a connection with Denmark, working with counsel in Denmark as appropriate.

These cases concern Danish divorce law, Danish marriage contracts, international child abductions to and from Denmark, international child visits to and from Denmark, and international child custody issues of all kinds.



Abduction or retention of a parent's own child may be a violation of section 215 of the Danish Criminal Code.

A parent is not allowed to take his or her child, who is habitually resident in Denmark, to another country, or retain the child outside Denmark, if

  • The other parent has sole custody and has not given his or her consent; or
  • The parent has joint custody, or custody is in dispute, and the other parent has not given consent and no court decision has been made allowing the child to stay or take up its residence abroad; or
  • The other parent has had custody transferred to him or her because the child has remained abroad longer than agreed or determined. Criminal liability presupposes that the parent abroad has been notified of or should otherwise have realized that he/she no longer has custody.

A parent is allowed to take his or her child, who is habitually resident in Denmark, to another country if:

  • The parent has sole custody; or
  • The Agency of Family Law/State Administration or the court has decided that the parent may leave Denmark with the child for a short period; or
  • The court has decided that the child may take residence abroad.



The following is an extract from Denmark's answers to a questionnaire submitted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law concerning the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

1. Civil legislative provisions

If one parent has sole custody of the child, this parent has the right to determine where the child should live, even if it is outside of Denmark. The parent, who does not have custody of the child, cannot take the child abroad without the consent of the holder of the custody. When parents on the other hand have joint custody, and they disagree about who is to have sole custody, both parents shall consent to the child leaving the country. When proceedings regarding custody have commenced, the court can decide that one parent should have temporary custody during the case. Such a temporary decision can also be made by the Ministry of Justice, Dep. of Private Law, if there is a risk that the parent, who has the custody of the child, is going to bring the child abroad.

2. Criminal legislative provisions

It follows from the Danish criminal code that a person, who wrongfully takes the child abroad, can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to 4 years. Covered by this article are both situations where the non-abducting parent has sole custody and where the parents have joint custody and they disagree about who is to have sole custody. In case of a report about one parent's attempt to wrongfully take the child abroad, the police can remove the child from the parent, who has tried to wrongfully bring the child abroad, and the child may then be placed with the other parent. If the parents have joint custody, it must be obvious to the police that the parents disagree about the custody, that there is no consent to the child leaving the country, and signs that the parent is leaving the country.

3. Court orders during proceedings

As stated under question 1 the court can decide that one parent should have temporary custody during the case. If such a decision is made, it is for instance possible for the holder of custody to decide that the other parent cannot pick up the child in day care institutions etc.

4. Court orders in emergency situations

Same as under question 3. Order of temporary custody can in some situations be made out-of-hours and also ex parte, if the judge finds it necessary in order to prevent an abduction.

5. Comments relating to legislative provisions, court orders or administrative measures

Decisions of temporary custody are often made by the court, when parents disagree about who is to have sole custody. They are, however, only made administratively if there is found to be an actual risk that one of the parents will take the child out of the country. In cases of joint custody the protection lies in the demand for consent to the child leaving the country.

Providing wise and experienced legal counsel to international families for many years

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