Child custody disputes

Child custody disputes are those in which parents bring a dispute concerning a child before the courts. As a result of separation and divorce, parents can disagree on who should have custody of their children, who the children should live with and visiting rights. This page provides more details of how such a case can be brought before the court.

A child custody case usually starts when one of the parents is filing a pleading.

As referred to above, parents can bring a case before the courts if they disagree on:

  • parental responsibility

  • with whom the child should live and/or

  • visitation rights

The claimant should use the filing a pleading (pdf). The defendant can reply to an indictment by filling out the defence and reply form (pdf). There is a guide on filling out the forms on the back.

The forms are primarily intended to make it easier for parents. They can bring a case before the courts by legal proceedings or defend and reply to a summons for legal proceedings without using a lawyer.  Lawyers can of course also use the forms.

Mandatory mediation

Before a case can be brought, the parents have to undergo mediation. All Family Counselling offices provide mediation. Priests, lawyers, psychologists or specialists employed by public health and social services or the PPT can also be approved mediators.

Bufetat (The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs) holds lists of all approved parent mediators and mediation offices. Under which circumstances a mediation certificate is needed, can also be found. See The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs website

Need help to fill out forms?

If you need help to fill out the forms, you can contact your local court or the court that will be hearing the case. Please also refer to the Children Act. Parental responsibilities and the child’s fixed abode:  See chapter 5 of the Children Act ( Visitation rights: See chapter 6 of the Children Act (

Free legal aid 

You can apply for free legal aid in cases related to the Children Act. Legal aid is provided by lawyers in private practice and legal assistants anywhere in Norway. To qualify for free legal aid, you must first fill in a self-declaration form and provide details of your private finances. You can apply for free legal aid before and after your lawyer starts work on the case.

Form (self-declaration) for free legal aid (

Videos and folders

For children

What happens in court when mummy and daddy argue over me? Many children have parents who live apart after separation and divorce. Sometimes, they can disagree where their children will live or who they should spend most of their time with. This video provides useful information to children in such a situation.

Download the video in low resolution or high resolution. The video is also on YouTube.

Legal proceedings in a child custody case

Sør-Trøndelag District Court has produced a video on a case being heard according to the Children Act by following a fictitious case in court. NB: cases can be conducted differently in different courts. 





Oslo district court - folder for parents

English version: Parents in conflict - How the Court handles cases under the Children Act (PDF)

Other languages:

Parents in conflict (Urdu)

Parents in conflict (Arabic) 

Parents in conflict (Spanish)

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