Q: Due to the fact that Iceland is a developed country, I am interested in knowing your laws regarding children custody if a divorce and protection for women in general. Also if you have any specific support for children when a problems between parents arise.
Childhood protection is a concern in most Latin-American countries and knowing the deal of the matter among other countries is a good tool to be taken into account.
Anamaria Carvajal, Valparaiso, Chile
A: Elísabet Gísladóttir from the office of the Ombudsman for Children in Iceland sent the following reply. It is her translation of the main paragraphs of the respective laws.
When problems between parents arise, a magistrate shall offer parents professional advice to assist them in resolving the matter with the best interests of the child in mind. The counselor can have discussions with the child in question if he or she believes this is in its best interests, provided that the custodial parents agree.
According to the Act in Respect of Children, parents have joint custody of their child upon divorce or separation. The parents can also agree among themselves that one of them shall have custody.
If case of dispute concerning the custody of a child, parents must first try to reach an agreement with the help of a professional counselor. However, if they are not able to reach an agreement a judge must decide with which parent the child’s custody shall be, according to the best interests of the child. A joint custody of a child cannot be determined in a court ruling but the parents can in case of reconciliation determine joint custody.
In the case of divorce or separation both parents have the duty to take all possible measures to ensure that the right of the child is being observed, the right of a child’s access to its parents, according to the child’s best interests.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland, everyone shall be equal before the law and enjoy human rights irrespective of sex, religion, opinion, national origin, race, color, property, birth or other status. Men and women shall enjoy equal rights in all respects.