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Regulations on Custody & Visitation

Under Icelandic law, in the event of divorce or terminating cohabitation, joint custody is the assumed custody arrangement, ensuring that children may spend time with and enjoy the care and support of both parents.


Unless otherwise stipulated, parents maintain joint custody of their children after a divorce or terminating cohabitation.

Under the terms of joint custody

  • parents must consult each other regarding all major decisions made with respect to the interest of the child, such as where the child will reside and attend school.

  • one parent may not type: entry-hyperlink id: 11vAmZzMBxuJQ2ECSVxktV without the other parent's approval.

The parents are expected to come to an agreement on the child's legal domicile where the child will reside on a consistent basis.

If the parents are neither married nor registered as cohabitating when the child is born, the mother acquires sole custody and the child's legal domicile is registered with her.

If the parents with to make other custody arrangements, they must confer with the district commissioner.

Visitation Rights

Regulations on visitation rights are intended to ensure that a child spends time regularly with the parent they do not live with. This applies to both joint custody and sole custody arrangements.

As a part of divorce or terminating cohabitation, parents are expected to reach an agreement on visitation. Visitation is unrelated to custody and requires a separate arrangement.

Agreements on visitation rights can be either verbal or in writing. The district commissioner may be asked to notarize a written agreement on visitation arrangements.

There are no formal rules governing visitation arrangements are devised.

Disputes over Custody or Visitation

If a dispute arises between parents over custody or visitation, they will be offered the option of mediation with a specialist counselor through the district commissioner. The goal of mediation is to assist the parents in finding a resolution with the best interests of the child in mind.

If the parents are unable to reach an agreement concerning custody, then the case may be brought before the court.

If the parents are unable to reach an agreement concerning visitation, the district commissioner will decide the arrangement with the best interests of the child in mind.

The ruling of the district commissioner may be appealed to the Ministry of Justice.

Under certain circumstances the district commissioner may order that visitation be conducted under supervision or that an intermediary agent collect and return the child for visitation.

If a custodial parent withholds visitation that has been ordered by the court or that has been decided by ruling or notarized agreement, a request can be submitted to the district commissioner to impose enforcement measures.

Laws & Regulations