Norway: Family Law

Notes on International Child Abduction: Norway

1. Norway is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It is also a party to the European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children, dated May 20, 1980.

2. Both conventions were incorporated in Norwegian law through the Child Abduction Act, Act no. 72 of 8 July 1988. A Nordic Convention also regulates cases involving the Nordic countries.

3. The Central Authority under the Hague Convention is the Royal Ministry of Justice and Public Security, Department of Civil Affairs in Oslo.  Applications under the Convention may be submitted in English. The Central Authority does not have a specific application form but requires that all relevant information should be supplied. Section 15(1) of the Child Abduction Act provides that the application for the return of a child pursuant to section 11 shall contain information concerning the identity of the applicants, the child and the person alleged to have removed or retained the child, as well as the date of birth of the child. It shall set out the grounds on which the claim for return is based, and information relating to the likely whereabouts of the child in Norway.

4. The applicant must then forward the application to the competent court which will be the District Court where the child is assumed to be living. The Central Authority has a dedicated staff which deals only with Hague Child Abduction Convention applications and related issues.

5. Norway and the United States have been treaty partners under the Hague Convention since April 1, 1989.

6. The Child Abduction Act expressly provides that Hague cases shall be dealt with expeditiously and that if the court has not reached a decision within six weeks of the application being submitted, it shall explain the reasons for the delay if so requested by the applicant.

7. For children resident in Norway, the Children Act, the Child Welfare Act and an agreement between the parents or a court ruling determine who has parental responsibility.

8. The Norwegian Children Act provides as follows:

-Parents who are married either before or after a child's birth have joint parental responsibility for their biological child.

-Co-habitants have joint parental responsibility for children they have together who are born after January 1, 2006.

-If the parents have not been married or lived together, the mother has sole parental responsibility unless the parents agree to have joint parental responsibility and so notify the National Population Register.

-If parents with joint parental responsibility separate, they continue to have joint parental responsibility, unless otherwise agreed.

9. When parents have joint custody, the consent of both parents is required before the child can move abroad (see section 40, first paragraph, second sentence, of the Children Act). When one of the parents has sole custody, he/she may generally move abroad without the consent of the other parent (see section 40, first paragraph, of the Children Act). If the other parent has initiated court proceedings regarding custody, the child must not move abroad before the matter has been decided (see section 40, second paragraph, of the Children Act).

10. Child abduction is an offence under section 216 of the Norwegian General Civil Penal Code. This means that anyone who abducts or keeps a child from its parents' or other authorized person's care is liable to up to three years in prison. The police do not normally take the initiative to investigate or press charges in relation to abductions. The Central Authority advises that in reality an abductor will only be prosecuted if the left-behind parent reports him/her to the police.

11. There is no special system for access cases under the Hague Convention. They are treated as normal child custody cases.

12. The Norwegian courts are required to ascertain the child's views before deciding a Hague case "unless this is impossible having regard in particular to the child's age and degree of maturity." (Child Abduction Act, Section 17).

13. Decisions by the District Court can be appealed to the High Court (Appeals Division) by either party. A decision by the High Court (Appeals Division) can be brought before the Supreme Court, but only on the grounds that the law has been incorrectly applied or interpreted. In the case of an appeal, an enforceable decision cannot be given with six weeks (Child Abduction Act, Article 11 (2).

Click here for the text of the Child Abduction Act

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