Death of a legal guardian

According to the Children's Act, if a child is left without anyone having custody of the child because of the death of a parent, the relevant child welfare committee assumes the custody of the child. This only applies if both custodial parents have died and there are no stepparents.

Death of a legal guardian


If it is in the child's best interest, an agreement or court order may be used to grant child custody to a person other than the person who automatically assumes custody under the Childrens Act.

  • If both parents have custody of the child and one of them dies, the other parent retains custody. This applies to married parents, parents in a registered cohabitation, and parents who have made arrangements for shared custody.
  • If a parent who dies also has sole custody of the child, the child's other parent assumes the custody of the child, unless the departed custodial parent was married or in a registered cohabitation for at least one year.
  • When a parent who has sole custody of a child marries or registers a cohabitation, the custody of the child is also shared with the custodial parent's spouse. If a custodial parent dies, that parent's spouse retains custody of the child.
  • If a parent is granted custody after the other parent's death and is registered as cohabiting or married, the same applies.
  • The custodial duties of a spouse towards a child remains while the marriage or registered cohabitation endures.
  • According to law, custodial parents or a custodial parent may prepare a written statement stipulating who should have custody of the child in the event of their deaths. The statement is only valid if it does not violate the law and reflects the child's best interests.
  • The statement must be notarized by a district magistrate (sýslumaður) or a district court attorney or supreme court attorney.

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