An Independence Party MP says it is worth thinking about making it a criminal offence for one parent to refuse the other parent access to their children.
A lawyer who supports the idea says that a possible punishment would be forcing the parent who refuses access to pay compensation. The head of the parenting equality association in Iceland says that the authorities should definitely intervene in such cases, as well as giving parents advice.
Inhibition, when the parent at a child’s residential address prevents normal communication with the other parent due to personal conflict following the break-up of their own relationship with one another, is classified as child negligence under Icelandic law. A new parliamentary bill could see the practice punishable by up to five years in prison.
Brynjar Níelsson, who put the bill forward, acknowledges that the law does not single out parents who refuse to see their children in the same way as those who refuse to grant access to their children. He adds, however, that the law does state that both parents of a child have a deep duty of care towards their offspring.
“And it is worth considering making that a crime too, that people do not address these requirements upon them, and other requirements,” Brynjar says. “However, there is a practical problem there, because if somebody doesn’t want to address their responsibilities, it is very likely that it will not be in the best interest of the child to be around them.”
Lawyer Helga Vala Helgadóttir told RÚV that legislators are convinced it does children no favors to force their parents to spend time with them. She says that some people understand money better than emotion and that fines might help illustrate to some people the harm they are doing to their children.