Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Iceland: Law No. 20 of 1992 in Respect of Children

Publisher National Legislative Bodies
Publication Date 1 July 1992
Cite as Iceland: Law No. 20 of 1992 in Respect of Children [Iceland],  1 July 1992, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b58110.html [accessed 29 July 2014]
Comments This is the official translated consolidation.The Law, No. 20 of 22 May 1992, was amended by the Laws No. 37 of 30 April 1993 and Law No. 23 of 3 March 1995.
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

CHAPTER I
Application.

Article 1

This Law shall apply to all children, and a separate legislation also applies to adopted children. Individual provisions of this Law also apply to step children and foster children, as further specified therein.

In the absence of statute provisions to the contrary, all children, shall have the same legal status in every respect.

CHAPTER II
The Paternity of Children.

A.Principles Governing the Paternity of Children born in Wedlock, and Children Born to Cohabiting Parents.

Article 2

The husband of a child's mother shall be presumed to be the child's father if the child is born to them in their marriage or so soon after the termination of marriage as to have been possibly conceived in wedlock. This does not, however, apply if the husband and wife were legally separated at the time of the child's conception.

If a mother, after the birth of her child, marries the man she alleges to be its father, he shall be presumed to be the child's father.

If the mother of a child and a man she alleges to be its father cohabit at the time of its birth according to the files of the National Registry or other unequivocal evidence, that man shall be presumed to be the child's father. The same shall apply if the mother of a child and a man she alleges to be its father start cohabiting as described above, provided the child's paternity has not been determined at that time.

Article 3

A husband or a man in cohabitation who has agreed in writing and in the presence of witness that his wife or the woman with whom he cohabits be artificially inseminated with the seed of another man shall be deemed to be the father of a child so conceived.

B.Recognition of the Paternity of Children to Whom the Provisions of Articles 2 and 3 Do Not Apply.

Article 4

In cases where the provisions of Articles 2 and 3 in respect of paternity do not apply, a child's paternity shall be determined by a recognition of fatherhood on the part of the man whom the child's mother alleges to be its father, as provided for in Articles 5 and 6, or by judicial resolution as provided for in Chapter VII, Part A.

Article 5

If a man whom a woman alleges to be the father of her child, cf. Article 4, recognizes his fatherhood in a written declaration before a priest or a magistrate, or in a witnessed written statement, he shall be presumed to be the child's father.

A declaration of fatherhood by a man within 18 years of age shall be supported by the confirmation of his guardian.

If the mental condition of a man alleged to be a child's father is such as to make his declaration unreliable, a judicial resolution shall be obtained in the matter.

Judicial resolution shall also be obtained if it appears that other men than the alleged father have had sexual intercourse with the mother at the time of the child's conception, and the paternity of other men than the one willing to recognition of fatherhood can not be ruled out in advance.

Article 6

The Ministry of Justice may decide that a recognition of fatherhood obtained abroad shall have the same effect as a recognition of fatherhood obtained in Iceland.

C.Registration of a Child's Paternity.

Article 7

A physician or a midwife attending childbirth shall immediately register in a birth report all facts providing information as to the child's development, and ask the mother about the child's paternity, recording her statement in the report. The man alleged by the mother to be the father of her child shall not be registered as its father unless the child's paternity has been determined in accordance with this Law.

D.Court Action Concerning the Paternity of Children.

Article 8

Litigation for determining the paternity of children shall be governed by the provisions of Chapter VII, Part A, and litigation for rebuttal of paternity and for invalidation of a recognition of fatherhood shall be governed by the provisions of Chapter VII, Part B.

CHAPTER III
The Support of Children.

A.The Duty of Parents to Support their Children.

Article 9

It is the duty of parents, together and individually, to support their children. A child's support shall be provided with regard to the situation of the parents and the needs of the child. This provision shall also apply to adopted children and parents by adoption.

It is the duty of a step parent to provide the stepchild with support, as if the child were his or her own. This shall also apply to a man or woman cohabiting with a child's natural parent.

If a child is fostered the foster parent has the duty of providing the child with support as if the child were his or her own.

BOrders to Pay Support.

Article 10

In case a parent fails in the duty of supporting his or her child, a magistrate may order the payment of support. However, such payments cans not be ordered farther back in time than one year from the time when a claim was submitted, unless extraordinary reasons dictate the contrary.

Support payments shall be determined with regard to the child's needs and the economic and other situations of both parents, including their earning ability.

If the father of a child has been convicted of an offence against its mother as described in Chapter XXII of the General Penal Code and the child is deemed to have been conceived by the act, the father may be ordered to pay all costs of the child's support.

Article 11

A child support order shall state the full name of the parent liable for payment, his or her national registry number and place of residence, and occupation and place of employment at the time the order is issued.

A child support order may never order the payment of a lower amount than corresponding to child maintenance as determined at any particular time in accordance with the Social Act, nor may the payment obligation of the parent liable for child support be limited to a lower minimum age than provided for in Article 13 of this Law. From the time this Law enters into effect, child support shall be paid for a child until the child reaches that age, even if a different age limit has been set in a child support order.

Article 12

In case support payments have been claimed for a child, and the conclusion of the matter can be foreseen to be delayed as the parent against whom the claim is directed resides abroad or contact with the parent is particularly difficult, a magistrate may issue a provisional order to the effect that the State Social Security Institute pay support for the child. The State Treasury shall reimburse such payments, and the Communal Alimony Collection Centre shall collect them from the parent liable to pay child support in accordance with a magistrate's support order directed against the parent.

C.Termination of the Duty to Provide Support.

Article 13

The duty to provide support shall cease when a child reaches the age of 18 years. The duty to pay child support ceases when a child marries, unless a magistrate decides otherwise. A contribution to the education or vocational training of an adolescent person claiming such contribution may be determined until the age of 20 years has been reached. Article 10, Paragraph 1, 2nd sentence, shall apply in this respect.

The provisions of Article 16, Paragraph 1, shall apply to a magistrate's decisions taken in accordance with Paragraph 1 above.

D.Payment of Child Support.

Article 14

Child support shall be paid monthly in advance unless an other arrangement is lawfully determined.

E.Orders by Reason of Special Disbursements.

Article 15

A party liable for support (child support) may be ordered to pay special contributions owing to a child's baptism, confirmation, sickness or burial, or for other extraordinary reasons.

Contributions in accordance with Paragraph 1 above shall only be ordered if a claim to that effect has been submitted to the magistrate within three months from the time when the disbursements had to be made, unless there was a valid reason to delay the presentation of the claim.

F.Amendments to a Child Support Order.

Article 16

A magistrate may change an order for the payment of child support if a reasoned request to that effect is presented, and it is demonstrated that the situation of the parents or the child has changed.

An order to pay support payments which have become due at the time the claim is submitted shall, however, not be changed, unless this dictated by extraordinary reasons.

G.Support Agreements.

Article 17

An agreement concerning support payments for a child is only valid if confirmed by a magistrate. Agreements concerning lower child support payments than corresponding to the amount of child maintenance as determined at any particular time in accordance with the Social Security Act may not be concluded, and child support payments may not be limited to a child's age lower than provided for in Article 13.

Article 18

A confirmed agreement for support payments, cf. Article 17, shall not prevent a magistrate from ordering a different arrangement in accordance with reasoned request to that effect, provided the magistrate deems that conditions have changed substantially or that the agreement is contrary to the child's interests.

The principle of Article 16, Paragraph 2, shall apply in such cases.

H.Entitlement to Support Payments, etc.

Article 19

Support payments under this Chapter belong to the child. A lump sum paid in fulfilment of the duty of support shall be preserved as is generally provided for by the Majority Act in respect of funds owned by minors, or in price-indexed State Treasury bonds.

A person paying for a child's support may petition that support payments be determined and collected, provided the petitioned has custody of the child or the child resides with him in accordance with a lawfully determined arrangement. If support has been provided from public funds, the public authority or institution in question shall have the right provided for in the present Paragraph.

I.Support Payments for Children when Parents Separate.

Article 20

When separating parents are in agreement concerning support payments for children their agreement shall be confirmed by a magistrate or by the court resolving the matter of separation, provided their agreement meets the conditions set in Article 17. In other cases the magistrate shall decide on support payments upon the request of either parent, as provided for in this Chapter.

CHAPTER IV
Payments Relating to Childbirth and Pregnancy.

Article 21

A magistrate may order the father of a child to pay a support allowance to its mother for a total of three months before and after its birth.

If a woman suffers a disease arising from pregnancy or childbirth the magistrate may order the father to pay her a monthly support for care and maintenance for up to nine months after birth.

Payments in accordance with this Article may also be ordered in the event of stillbirth.

Article 22

In case it is established that the father of a child has committed an offence against its mother as described in Article 10, Paragraph 3, the magistrate shall order him to pay all costs arising from pregnancy and childbirth.

A magistrate may furthermore order the man responsible for pregnancy to pay the costs of lawful abortion.

Article 23

Contributions under Article 21 and Article 22, Paragraph 1, shall be due as soon as ordered, provided the child has then been born, or at a later time as the magistrate may decide. Contributions according to Article 22, paragraph 2, shall be due when ordered.

Contributions according to Paragraph 1 shall not be ordered farther back in time than one year from the date on which a request was submitted, except in extraordinary cases.

Contributions according to Article 21 and 22 belong to the child's mother and/or the public institution that has defrayed the expenses in question.

CHAPTER V
Payment and Collection of Support

Article 24

Support (child support) payments for a child, ordered by a magistrate, may be collected by direct enforcement proceedings. Subject to Article 23 this applies also to payments ordered by a magistrate according to Articles 13, 15, 21, and 22.

Payments under Paragraph 1 covered by an agreement of the parties which a magistrate has confirmed may also be collected by direct enforcement proceedings.

Article 25

The State Social Security Institute shall pay support (child support) according to lawful order or confirmed agreement to the parent of a child entitled to support in this country, or to other parties as indicated in Article 27, subject to the limits as regards amounts and age provided for in the Social Security Act at any particular time.

A parent's claim to the State Social Security Institute shall be accompanied by a lawfully served child support order, or a child support agreement confirmed by a magistrate.

In case the parents of a child have lawfully divorced in a foreign country, and the parent not having custody has become obliged to pay a lower amount for the child's support than corresponding to the amount of child maintenance under Social Security, or has not become obliged to pay child support for the child, a magistrate may order that child support shall be paid to the custodial parent by the State Social Security Institute on the basis of a foreign divorce licence, judgment or order. The amounts thus paid shall be reimbursed by the State Treasury and collected by the Communal Alimony Collection Centre as practicable.

In other respects the provisions of the Social Security Act shall apply to claims under Paragraph 2 and the reimbursement thereof, including reimbursement by the State Treasury of child support payments defrayed by the State Social Security Institute on accounts of parents entitled to support abroad.

Article 26

A mother's access to the State Social Security Institute on account of support under Article 21, Paragraph 1, shall be governed by the Social Security Act.

A parent shall have access to the Social Security Institute on account of the payments mentioned in Article 15, and a mother shall such access on account of payments under Article 21, Paragraph 2, and Article 22, Paragraph 1, of this Law. Subject to the provisions of the Social Security Act, an adolescent person shall have access to the State Social Security Institute on account of contributions ordered in accordance with Article 13.

The Ministry of Health and Social Security may, by regulation, decide what maximum amounts may be paid by the State Social Security Institute in accordance with Paragraphs 1 and 2.

Article 27

A party supporting a child after the death of a parent or for other reasons as provided for by law, including the municipal government of a child's municipality of support, if support has been paid for by the municipality, shall have the same rights as enjoyed by a parent according to Articles 24-26.

Article 28

The duty of a parent to pay maintenance payments to the Communal Alimony Collection Centre and the collection measures available to that institution shall be governed by the Law in respect of the Communal Alimony Collection Centre.

CHAPTER VI
Parental duties, Custodianship, and Right of Access.

A.Custodian's Responsibilities.

Article 29

Parents shall afford their child care and consideration, and observe their duties of upbringing and custodianship as best suits their child's interests and needs. They shall provide their children with education as required by law, and encourage them in industry and morality.

A child is entitled to the custodianship of its parents, and parents have custodial duties towards their child, until it reaches the age at which it becomes competent to manage its personal affairs. Duties of custodianship may, however, continue in particular respects, if the needs of the child so require. A parent who is a child's sole custodian has the duty of providing for the child's access to its other parents, provided such access is not contrary to the child's interests in the opinion of a competent administrative authority.

The custody of a child entails the custodians' right and duty to manage the child's personal affairs and perform other parental duties. Custodians have the right and the duty to manage the child's financial affairs, as provided for by the Law in respect of Majority.

Parents shall to the best of their ability provide their children with education and vocational training in accordance with the childrens' abilities and interests.

Parents shall as practicable consult their children before making decisions concerning their personal affairs, having in particular regard to a child's maturity.

The provisions of this Article shall apply to a child's natural parents, adoptive parents, step parents and foster parents, cf. Article 9, Paragraph 3, and to a cohabiting partner, i.e. a man or a woman who according to the files of the National Registry or other unequivocal evidence cohabits with a child's natural mother or father.

B.Statutory Custody.

Article 30

Subject to Article 32, Paragraph 1, children of minor age are entitled to the custody of both parents, if the parents are married or cohabiting as defined in Article 2, Paragraph 3.

If a child's parents are neither married nor cohabiting at the time of its birth, the mother shall, subject to Article 33, Paragraph 1, alone have custody of the child.

If an unmarried parent who has custody of his or her child enters into cohabitation or marries, the step parent or cohabiting parent shall also have custody of the child.

C.Custody in Case of the Death of a Custodial Parent.

Article 31

If parents have joint custody of their child and one parent dies, the surviving parent shall alone have custody of the child, with the spouse or cohabiting partner of the surviving parent, as the case may be. Custody of the child may be committed to the spouse or cohabiting partner of the deceased parent who has had joint custody, if requested by that person, provided this is deemed to serve best the child's interest.

If one parent has had custody of a child, a step parent or cohabiting partner who also has had custody shall continue to have custody after the death of the custodial parent. Custody of the child may be committed to the other parent upon that parent's request, if this is deemed to serve best the child's interests.

After the death of a parent who has had sole custody of his or her child, the child's custody shall be with the other parent. Custody may then be committed to another person if requested and deemed to serve best the child's interests.

Procedure in cases to which Paragraphs 1-3 apply shall be governed by the provisions of Articles 33, 34 and 36.

If a child becomes without custody by reason of the death of its custodial parents the child welfare committee shall have custody of the child as provided for in the Child Welfare Act.

D.Custody in Case of Divorce of Separation of Parents.

Article 32

If married parents separate without their marriage being terminated they may decide that one of them shall have custody of their children. The provisions of Article 33, Paragraph 4, shall apply to any agreements concluded in accordance with this Paragraph.

The matter of custody shall always be resolved when parents separate or divorce, and when unmarried cohabiting parents separate, cf. Article 2, Paragraph 3, and 29, Paragraph 6. Subject to the provisions of Article 35, Paragraph 1, the arrangement of custody upon separation shall apply unchanged in case of divorce.

Parents can agree among themselves that they both shall, following divorce or separation, have custody of their child (joint custody), or that one of them shall have custody. The provisions of Article 33, Paragraph 4, shall apply to any agreements concluded in accordance with this Paragraph.

In case of dispute concerning the custody of a child upon termination of marriage or upon the separation of married or cohabiting parents the matter shall be resolved as provided for in Article 34.

E.Agreements Between Parents Concerning Custody.

Article 33

Parents who do not both have custody of their may agree among themselves to have custody jointly. An agreement on joint custody shall specify with which parent the child shall have its legal home, and consequently where it shall generally stay.

Parents may agree among themselves to change custody arrangements with the effect that custody is transferred from one parent to the other or that joint custody is terminated and custody transferred to one parent.

Parents can agree among themselves to commit custody of their child to a third person, provided the child welfare committee recommend such arrangement. If one parent has custody of a child the opinion of the other parent shall be sought.

An agreement providing for the custody of a child becomes effective when approved by a magistrate. The magistrate shall provide the parties with guidance as to the legal effects of their agreement. If such agreement is contrary to the child's interests the magistrate may withhold his approval.

F.Custody Disputes.

Article 34

The courts have jurisdiction in cases where parents disagree on a child's custody. The Ministry of Justice may resolve custody disputes if the parties are in agreement to commit the power of decision to the Ministry. If a divorce petition has been submitted in court, the same court shall decide in case of dispute relating to custody, unless both parties agree to seek the decision of the Ministry of Justice in the matter. A dispute concerning the custody of a child may be referred to a court even if the matter of divorce has been committed to a magistrate. Such cases shall be proceeded expeditiously.

The court, or the Ministry of Justice, shall in its resolution determine, in accordance with the best interests of the child, to which parent custody shall be committed. Joint custody shall not be ordered unless both parents agree on such arrangement. In case neither parent is deemed fit for having the custody of their child, custody shall be committed to the child welfare committee as provided for in the Child Welfare Act.

The Ministry of Justice shall generally seek the opinion of the child welfare committee before resolving a custody case. A judge shall seek the opinion of the child welfare committee if he deems this advisable.

A child who has reached the age of 12 years shall be provided with an opportunity to explain its views in a custody case provided this is not deemed harmful to the child or irrelevant for the conclusion of the case. Younger children may also be consulted if considered appropriate with regard to their age and maturity. A court, or the Ministry of Justice, may engage a specially trained person or persons to ascertain the views of a child and provide a report on the matter.

In case of special need a representative may be appointed for representing a child's interests in the course of a custody case; his fee shall be paid by the State Treasury.

Chapter VIII and IX of the present Law provide for the procedure in such cases in further detail.

Article 35

If a parent requests that an agreement or a resolution of a court or the Ministry of Justice relating a custody be changed, the matter shall be resolved by a court in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VIII, or by the Ministry of Justice if both parties agree on such procedure. A request according to the present Paragraph shall only be granted if change is deemed advisable by reason of changed circumstances and with regard to the child's interests and needs. The provisions of the following Paragraph shall, however, apply to a parent's request for the cancellation of an agreement relating to joint custody.

Parents having joint custody of a child in accordance with an agreement between them may at any time, either or both, request that the arrangement be cancelled. Any new agreement is subject to a magistrate's approval as provided for by Article 33, Paragraph 3, but issues in dispute shall be referred to a court or to the Ministry of Justice as provided, or in Articles 34 and 36.

In case a mother has custody of her child in accordance with Article 30, Paragraph 2, custody may be committed to the child's father upon his request, if such arrangement is deemed to serve the child's interests best. When resolving a matter in accordance with this Paragraph the child's ties to its father shall be among the factors taken into account. The provisions of Article 34, Paragraph 1, 1st and 2nd sentences, shall apply to disputes to which this Paragraph applies.

G.Provisional Determination of Custody.

Article 36

In cases where custody of a child is subject to dispute a court or the Ministry of Justice, depending on where the matter is to be resolved, may decide provisionally how the child's custody shall be arranged, as required by the best interests of the child. Such decision may be changed by reason of substantially changed circumstances. Provisional determination of custody shall not have a binding effect for the deciding authority when a permanent custody arrangement shall determined, and the competency of the authority making the decision for resolving the matter of custody shall not be affected in other respects.

H.Right of Access.

Article 37

A child has the right associating with the parent not having custody, who also has the right to associate with the child. The parent has the duty of maintaining association and company with the child and of observing any relevant conditions in that respect.

If the parents agree among themselves how such right of access shall be exercised this right shall be exercised accordingly, provided this is not, in the opinion of the magistrate, contrary to the interests of the child.

In case the parents disagree on the right of access the magistrate shall, upon the request of a parent, define what the right of access entails and how it shall be exercised. The magistrate may refrain from such definition and may furthermore amend or invalidate a decision or an agreement concerning right of access if such a measure is deemed to serve best the interests of the child. In case the magistrate deems that by reason of specific considerations the child's association with a parent is contrary to the child's interest, the magistrate may determine that right access is suspended. [In exceptional circumstances the magistrate may, at the request of a parent who does not have the child's custody, define that parent's right to maintain contact with the child by correspondence, telephone and similar means.]1)

In the course of a custody procedure a magistrate may, if requested by the parent with whom the child does not reside, determine provisionally in accordance with the basic principles of Paragraphs 1 and 3 of this Article what access the child shall have to that parent until the matter of custody has been resolved.

If one or both parents of a child have died, or if a parent is prevented from exercising the duty of associating with a child, the close relatives of deceased parent or a parent who is prevented from exercising the duty of association may request that a magistrate determine the extent to which they may associate with the child. The magistrate shall conclude the matter in the manner he deems to serve best the child's interests.

In the matter of exercising the right of access the opinion of the child welfare committee shall be sought when deemed appropriate, as well as the assistance of the committee or a specially appointed supervisor. The principles of Article 34, Paragraph 4, shall apply in this respect, as applicable.

Article 38

If a parent having custody of child prevents the other parent from exercising the right of access to the child in accordance with a previous determination the magistrate may, upon that other parent's request, order the custodial parent to desist, subject to daily penalties amounting up to kr. 5,000. Daily penalties shall not be imposed until the period for appeal according to Article 74 passed or, if the matter has been appealed to the Ministry, until the Ministry's decision concerning right of access has been rendered. Daily penalties shall be imposed by formal decision, and the person having custody of the child shall be afforded the opportunity of expressing his views before the decision is rendered. A determination of daily penalties shall be effective for three months at a time for each day that passes from the date of the decision until any hindrances are removed. The daily penalties shall be cancelled when the magistrate deems that access is unhindered. The daily fines may be collected by direct enforcement proceedings in accordance with petition of the person whose right of access is hindered, and shall accrue to the State Treasury. The maximum amount of daily penalties according to the foregoing shall be subject to changes in accordance with the Credit Terms Index as effective on 1 July 1992. Other legal remedies can not be employed to enforce right access.

I.Planned Movement of a Child to a Foreign Country.

Article 39

In case a custody dispute has not been brought to a conclusion, a court of law or the Ministry of Justice, depending on the authority to which the resolution of the dispute has been committed, may upon the request of either parent order that the child may not leave Iceland. The court or the Ministry shall resolve the matter by formal decision. A judicial decision of this nature may be summarily appealed to the Supreme Court. Such appeal shall not suspend the effects of the decision.

[In case the parents have custody of their child jointly one parent may not leave Iceland with the child unless the other parent gives its approval.]1)

Article 40

If one parent has right of access to a child the other parent may not move from Iceland with the child unless the parent having right of access is afforded the opportunity to state his or her views and to refer the matter to a magistrate, if desired.

[J.The Right to Information Concerning a Child.

Article 40A

A parent not having custody of a child is entitled to information from the other parent on matters concerning the child, including its health and progress, its stay in a day nursery, school attendance, interests and social contacts.

A parent not having custody of a child is entitled to information concerning the child from day nurseries, schools, hospitals, health care and social affairs institutions, social affairs committees, child welfare committees and police. The right provided for in this Paragraph does not include a right to obtain information on matters concerning the parent having custody.

The institutions and authorities mentioned in Paragraph 2 can, however, withhold the information if it is deemed that the parent's interest in making use of it must yield to public or private interests of significantly greater weight, including if it is considered that provision of the information may harm the child.

A refusal to provide information concerning a child on the basis of Paragraph 3 is subject to appeal to the magistrate within two months from when the parent was notified of such a decision. A decision of a magistrate taken in accordance with this Paragraph can not be appealed against to the Ministry of Justice.

Under exceptional circumstances a magistrate can decide at the request of a parent having custody to suspend the other parent's right to obtain information under Paragraph 2. Article 74 of this Law shall apply to appeal against a magistrate's decision to this effect.]1)

CHAPTER VII
Court Action Relating to Paternity.

A.Paternity of Children to Whom Articles 2-6 Do Not Apply.

1.Jurisdiction.

Article 41

Court action relating to a child's paternity may be brought in Iceland under the following conditions:

a.if the defendant resides in Iceland,

b.if the defendant's estate at death is or has been subject to settlement in this country,

c.if the child's mother resides in this country,

d.if the child resides in this country.

Derogations from the provisions of this Article may be provided for in international agreements.

2.Venue.

Article 42

Paternity action may be brought in the home venue of the mother or the defendant as further specified in Paragraph 2.

In case the mother does not have a venue in Iceland the action may be brought in the venue of the defendant or in his last venue in Iceland if he has left the country or his whereabouts are unknown, or in the venue where his estate is subject to settlement proceedings.

The action may be brought in the venue of the child if there is no venue under Paragraph 1 or 2, or before such court in Iceland as the Ministry of Justice may decide.

3.The Parties.

Article 43

The plaintiff in paternity action shall be the child's mother, or the child itself. If a child's mother has brought the action, but has died before the case has been brought to a conclusion, the person or municipality that has partially or totally taken over the child's support may continue the action.

The defendant or defendants shall be the man or men who allegedly have had sexual intercourse with the child's mother at the time of the child's conception. If a defendant has died before the action has commenced the action may be directed against his estate.

If it is considered certain or probable that more than one man had sexual intercourse with the mother at the time of the child's conception, both or all shall be joined to the action.

4.Procedure.

Article 44

Paternity cases shall be handled and adjudicated in district court.

With the exceptions provided for by enacted law, such cases shall be subject to general civil procedure.

Article 45

While a paternity action is in progress the child's mother shall be entitled to the assistance of the child welfare committee as the judge deems necessary. This shall also apply to a plaintiff child.

The plaintiff in a paternity case shall be entitled to free process in district court and in the Supreme Court.

Article 46

The judge shall keep the collection of evidence under observation.

The judge may direct the parties or their legal representatives to collect evidence as he may further specify.

The judge may, furthermore, if deemed necessary, collect evidence on his own accord.

The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure concerning default of appearance and the effects of not objecting to an adversary's assertions shall not apply to court action under this Chapter.

Article 47

The parties to the case shall, as summoned by the judge, appear in court and provide statements; this does not, however, apply to the mother if she is plaintiff, but the case shall be dismissed from court if she declines to provide any information she possesses, or refuses so submit herself or the child to a blood test or other scientific examination ordered by the judge.

Article 48

The judge may order that the blood of the child's mother, the child and the defendants be examined, and that other scientific examinations be performed, including human genetic testing. The persons concerned have the duty of submitting themselves to the taking of blood samples and other examinations for the purpose of scientific testing. The judge may order that blood tests and human genetic tests be performed of the parents and, as applicable, siblings of the mother and a defendant, as well as of other children of the mother and other children of an alleged father.

Article 49

Court sessions in paternity cases shall be held in camera. A representative of the child welfare committee may attend in the company of the mother or the child.

Article 50

The judge of a paternity lawsuit shall not be bound by the claims submitted by the parties.

In a case to which the above provisions apply the man who has been established to have had sexual relations with the mother at the time of the child's conception shall be deemed to be the child's father, except if evidence makes this unlikely.

In case it is established that the child's mother has had sexual relations with more than one man at the time of the child's conception, a defendant in a paternity suit shall only be adjudged to be its father if he is significantly more likely to be the father than the other or others in question.

5.Publication of Judgement.

Article 51

If a judgement in a paternity case is printed or otherwise disclosed to the public the names, occupations and residences of the persons mentioned in the judgement shall not be disclosed.

B.Court Action for Rebuttal of Paternity and for Invalidation of a Recognition of Fatherhood.

1.Rebuttal of a Child's Paternity According to Articles 2 and 3.

Article 52

Legal action for rebuttal of a child' paternity may be brought by the husband or the man cohabiting with the child's mother, its mother, the child, or by a guardian of the child appointed ad hoc if applicable; following the death of a husband or a cohabiting man such action may furthermore be brought by his heir whose right of succession to his estate equals or immediately follows that of the child.

Action must be brought within one year from when the plaintiff obtained knowledge of facts on which rebuttal of paternity may be based, and in any case not later than five years after the child's birth. If the husband or the cohabiting man has died before the time limit for bringing action has expired, a party whose right of succession to the estate of the decedent equals or immediately follows that of the child may bring the action within six months from obtaining knowledge of the child's birth and the death of the husband or the cohabiting man. The above time limits shall not apply in cases where the child is plaintiff.

[Under very exceptional circumstances the Ministry of Justice may permit action to be brought after the periods specified in Paragraph 2 have expired. This shall also apply if the periods for bringing action for rebuttal or for invalidation of a recognition of fatherhood had expired before this Law entered into effect.]1)

2.Invalidation of a Recognition of Fatherhood According to Articles 4-6.

Article 53

Court action for invalidation of a recognition of fatherhood, cf. Articles 4-6, may be brought if new information regarding fatherhood is brought to light, or information which shows that the man who recognized his fatherhood can not be the child's father.

The recognized father, the mother of the child itself may be parties to litigation under this Article.

[The principles of Article 52, Paragraphs 2 and 3, shall also apply to legal action in accordance with the present Article.]1)

3.Procedure.

Article 54

Court action under Articles 52 and 53 shall be subject to civil procedure. The provisions of Articles 48, 49 and 51 shall apply to such action.

If a declaration in writing made by a man who is not married to or cohabiting with the child's mother is submitted in an action for rebuttal and confirmed before the judge, stating that man to be the father of the child, and the mother and the man to whom she is married or cohabits with declare in the same manner that they consider the man in question to be the child's father, the judge may render a judgement to the effect that the mother's husband or the man with whom she cohabits is not the child's father, provided the judge deems that the declaration is supported by adequate evidence. This procedure, however, shall not apply if the child has reached the age at which it becomes competent to manage its personal affairs, unless the child approves of a changed assumption of paternity.

Paragraph 2 of Article 45 shall apply in case the child is plaintiff in a court action for rebuttal.

In case the husband of a child's mother or the man with whom she has been cohabiting has died before an action has been brought under Article 52, Paragraph 2, the action may be brought against his estate.

4.Rebuttal of the Paternity of a Child Conceived by Artificial Insemination.

Article 55

In case a man has agreed to artificial insemination of his wife or the woman with whom he cohabits, cf. Article 3, a request for rebuttal of a child's paternity in a court action brought under Article 52 shall only be granted if it is established that the child was not conceived by artificial insemination.

CHAPTER VIII
Court Action Relating to Custody of Children.

A.Jurisdiction.

Article 56

Court action originating in a dispute concerning the custody of a child may be brought in Iceland under the following conditions:

a.if the defendant resides in Iceland,

b.if the child or children concerned reside in Iceland,

c.if the plaintiff is an Icelandic national and it is established that he is, by reason of his nationality, barred from legal action in his country of residence or in the country in which the defendant or the children reside,

d.if both parents are Icelandic nationals and the defendants does not object to the action being brought in Iceland.

The provisions of international agreements to which Iceland is a party shall, however, take precedence over the provisions of Paragraph 1 above.

If a claim concerning custody forms part of a case concerning the status of marriage the principles of jurisdiction and venue provided for in the Law in respect of Marriage shall apply. As regards the aspect of custody the provisions of this Chapter shall be observed.

In very exceptional circumstances an Icelandic court may adjudicate a claim for a provisional custody arrangement, provided the defendant or the child is staying in Iceland.

B.Venue.

Article 57

The court action shall be brought in the home venue of the child or, if this can not be done, in the home venue of the defendant. If neither of them has a home venue in Iceland the action may be brought in the plaintiff's home venue.

In case there is no venue under Paragraph 1 the action shall be brought before such court as the Ministry of Justice may decide.

C.Procedure.

1.General Principles of Civil Procedure, and Exceptions.

Article 58

A court action relating to custody of children shall be governed by the principles of civil procedure unless exceptions are provided for by statute.

2.Conciliation.

Article 59

The judge shall seek to conciliate the parties to a custody case.

The judge may decide that a conciliation attempt made by a family counselling establishment shall partially or totally take the place of conciliation procedure under Paragraph 1 above.

3.Evidence.

Article 60

The judge shall keep the collection of evidence under observation.

In judge may instruct the parties or their counsels to collect evidence as further specified, such as reports of experts concerning the parents or the child. The provisions of Chapter IX of the Code of Civil Procedure, no. 91/1991, in respect of experts appointed by the court, shall apply to reports provided under this Article.

The judge may furthermore, if deemed necessary, collect evidence on his own accord, including by hearing witnesses and receiving the opinions of experts. The judge may also direct the parties to provide statements in court under the legal principles applying to witnesses. In his judgement the judge shall decide whether the cost of collecting evidence under this Paragraph shall be paid by the State Treasury.

Article 61

The judge may decide that either or both parties shall be absent when the views of a child are ascertained as provided for in Article 34, Paragraph 4. Before final argumentation the parties shall be informed of what has been brought to light concerning the child's views, unless this is deemed prejudicial to the child's interests.

4.Presentation of Requests and Facts.

Article 62

The parties may bring forth new requests, facts or objections until the time of final argumentation; conciliation need not be attempted anew on account of new requests unless the judge considers this advisable.

The judge shall not be bound by the requests and facts as presented by the parties.

5.Court Session.

Article 63

Cases concerning custody shall be tried and heard in camera, unless the judge decides otherwise with the approval of the parties.

D.Anonymity, etc.

Article 64

Without permission from the judge no disclosure may be made to the public of any other information concerning the proceedings than the judgement itself. A violation of this provision shall be subject to fines.

When publication of a judgement in a case of this nature takes place, including publication under the auspices of the court, names shall not be disclosed, nor shall information be disclosed which may indicate the identity of the parties or the identity of the child or children to whom the judgement relates.

CHAPTER IX
Resolution of Issues under this Law by Administrative Procedure.

A.Competence.

Article 65

Administrative authorities shall be competent to resolve issues involving connections to foreign countries under the following conditions:

a.if the child to whom the matter relates resides in Iceland,

b.if the party against whom a request is directed resides in Iceland,

c.if a judicial decision or judgement in a custody or paternity case has been rendered in this country the matter of maintenance payments relating to the same child may also be resolved, provided a request to this effect is submitted within one year from the date of the decision or judgement.

The provisions of international agreements to which Iceland is a party shall, however, take precedence over the provisions of Paragraph 1 above.

B.Administrative Area of Resolution.

Article 66

The decision in a matter in dispute which is subject to a magistrate's resolution shall be rendered in the administrative area where the child resides.

If the child is not residing in Iceland the decision shall be rendered in the administrative area where the person against whom the request is directed resides.

If cases are simultaneously in progress which are on the same nature and relate to siblings who do not reside within the same administrative area of resolution, the cases shall be joined and resolved in the administrative area where a decision is to be rendered concerning the request first submitted.

The Ministry of Justice shall decide in which administrative area a matter shall be resolved if neither the child nor the person against whom the request is directed reside in Iceland, or if it is for other reasons not clear where a matter shall be resolved in accordance with the foregoing provisions.

C.Duty to Provide Guidance.

Article 67

The magistrate shall provide the parties with guidance as regards their rights and duties having a bearing on the matter in dispute.

D.Conciliation Procedure.

Article 68

The magistrate shall attempt to conciliate the parties before rendering a decision on a matter in dispute, except if such attempts will obviously be fruitless or a party fails repeatedly to heed the magistrate's summons. If the parties reside or stay in different administrative areas, conciliation may be attempted where each of them resides or stays.

If, in a matter concerning custody or right of access, conciliation has been attempted by a family counselling establishment, a conciliation attempt by the magistrate shall not be necessary.

E.The Requests of the Parties, and Collection of Evidence.

Article 69

The parties shall present a clear formulation of the requests submitted by them to the administrative authority, and collect the evidence which the administrative authority deems necessary. The administrative authority may, also, collect evidence on its own initiative if needed.

If the petitioner fails repeatedly to heed the summons or recommendations of the administrative authority concerning evidence to be submitted, the administrative authority may decline to resolve in the matter.

In case a respondent fails repeatedly to heed the summons or recommendations of the administrative authority concerning evidence to be collected, the case shall be resolved on the basis of the requests and evidence on hand.

F.The Parties' Access to Documents and Evidence.

Article 70

The parties to a case shall be entitled to make themselves familiar with documents and other evidence concerning the case. This right, however, does not extend to material prepared by the administrative authority for its own use in connection with the procedure.

The administrative authority may restrict the access of the parties to evidence providing information on the views of a child, if recommended by the child's interest.

G.The Parties' Right to State their Views.

Article 71

The parties shall be afforded the opportunity of stating their views before a decision is rendered; the administrative authority may set a definite period for this purpose.

H.Form and Content of Decision.

Article 72

The decision of the administrative authority shall be in writing. The matter at issue and the conclusion, with the reasons leading thereto, shall be stated. Including legal arguments on which conclusion is based, and other relevant points, including appeal and enforcement measures, if applicable.

I.Notification of Decision.

Article 73

The decision of the administrative authority shall be sent to the parties by registered letter, served by one process server, or otherwise notified in a manner providing proof of the notification.

J.Administrative Appeal.

Article 74

The decision of a magistrate may be appealed to the Ministry of Justice within two months as from its date. [In a decision a magistrate may order that an appeal shall suspend its effect.]1)

CHAPTER X
Implementation of Decisions Relating to Custody.

Article 75

When a decision concerning the custody of a child has been taken and the person with whom the child stays refuses to hand the child over to the person having custody, the person having custody may, in a petition to the district court judge, request that custody the enforced by a magistrate's enforcement proceedings.

In case the person with whom the child stays refuses, in spite of the order of the district court judge, to hand the child over, or to provide the information the magistrate deems necessary for continuing the enforcement proceedings, the magistrate may, if requested by the petitioner, impose daily penalties to be paid by the respondent on the basis of Article 38. Such daily penalties shall accrue to the State Treasury. A decision to impose daily penalties may be enforced by levy. The respondent can not be deprived of his liberty even if he fails in his duty to provide information.

If enforcement proceedings must be carried out as requested by the petitioner the magistrate shall request the presence of a representative of the child welfare committee and the representative of the child, if appointed, cf. Article 34, Paragraph 5. The magistrate may appoint a person to represent the child, if this has not already been done. As far as assistance is provided by police in the course of the enforcement proceedings, police personnel shall generally wear civil clothes. The enforcement proceedings shall, as far as possible, be conducted with a view to protect the child from undue strain.

CHAPTER XI
Entry into Effect, and Repealed Statutes.

Article 76

This Law shall enter into effect 1 July 1992.

When this Law enters into effect Law no. 9/1981 in respect of children, as amended by Law no. 44/1985, is repealed. The provisions of Articles 47, 48 and 53 of the Law in respect of Marriage, no. 60/1972, are furthermore repealed as from the same time.

The Ministry of Justice shall introduce to the public the chief changes brought about by the present Law.

The Ministry of Justice shall issue a Regulation and other instructions concerning the implementation of this Law in particular aspects.

Article 77

The parties to a custody case in progress at the Ministry of Justice at the time this Law enters into effect shall be informed of their right to seek judicial resolution of the matter. A definite period may be set for the parties for deciding whether to discontinue the proceedings at the Ministry.

Cases concerning right of access and cases concerning maintenance payments which are in progress at the Ministry of Justice at the time this Law enters into effect shall be sent to the relevant magistrate for resolution, provided a case has not reached the final stage in the Ministry's assessment.

The provisions of Article 2, Paragraph 1, 2nd sentence, and of Article 55, shall not be applied with regard to children born prior to the entry into effect of this Law.

The provision of Article 32, Paragraph 2, 2nd sentence, shall not apply to legal separation granted before this Law enters into effect.



1) Law No. 23/1995, Article 1.

1) Law No. 23/1995, Article 2.

1) Law No. 23/1995, Article 3.

1) Law No. 23/1995, Article 4.

1) Law No. 23/1995, Article 5.

1) Law No. 37/1993, Article 36.

Search Refworld

Countries