The Children's Act
The Children's Act applies to children and young people under the age of 18. It regulates parents' duties towards their children, as well as children's rights in respect of their parents. The provisions of the Children's Act regulate, among other matters, the establishment of paternity, parental responsibilities and the everyday care of children, reciprocal rights of access for children and parents, and parents' duty to take care of their children.
Several of the Act's provisions regulate the rights and duties of parents who are not living together, for example because they are separated or divorced. Parents who separate may reach their own agreement as to the allocation of parental responsibility, child custody, rights of access and payment of any associated travel expenses. If the parents are unable to reach agreement on these matters, either parent may commence legal proceedings and ask the court to decide the matter. Before the case comes before the court, the parents will be required to attend a mediation session. If you have questions about mediation, please refer to your local family welfare office (familievernkontor).
Financial arrangements between parents
As a general rule, financial arrangements between parents are a private-law matter.
When working out who should pay for any travel associated with child access, the general rule is that such costs should be divided pro rata according to each parent's income. Parents are free, however, to agree on a different arrangement. The County Governor may also make an order concerning the allocation of travel expenses if it seems reasonable to deviate from the general rule. This may be the case, for example, if the travel expenses are very high and one parent has a much larger income than the other.
The County Governor's power to make agreements legally binding
The County Governor can give legal effect to a written agreement on the division of parental responsibility, child custody, rights of access and the payment of any associated travel expenses. Both parents must consent to the administrative processing of the matter by the County Governor. If the child is over 15, the County Governor may process the matter even if one parent does not consent. The parents may also bring the matter before the courts.
Under the Children's Act, a parent who does not have parental responsibility is still entitled to obtain information about the child from the child's kindergarten or school, as well as from the health or social services and the police. Any complaint about a refusal to supply such information should be addressed to the County Governor.