Custody and residence
The parent who has custody of a child is responsible for providing the child with food, clothing, housing etc. The parent must protect the child against threats of any kind and take care of all the child’s needs.
The parent who has custody also has a right to decide what the child should and should not do.
All children and young people under 18 who are unmarried are subject to parental custody.
Who has custody?
As a main rule, under Danish law parents have joint custody, even when they separate or divorce or no longer live together.
Parents have joint custody in the following situations:
- They were married to each other when the child was born
- They married after the child was born
- They had separated by the time the child was born, but later resumed marital relations
- They signed a joint Care and Responsibility Declaration when the child was born
- They registered an agreement on joint custody with the Agency of Family Law or the courts
In the case of a child born after 1st October 2007, parents ALSO have joint custody in the following situations:
- They were married to each other at some point within the 10 months preceding the child’s birth
- They separated from or divorced each other when the child was born, but the father has acknowledged paternity or a court has declared that he is the child’s father
- They lived together at some point within the 10 months preceding the child's birth
In other cases, the mother has sole custody.
Apart from the above, sole custody only arises when the parents make an agreement to that effect and have the agreement duly registered with the Agency of Family Law or when a court decides that sole custody is appropriate.
Changing custody arrangements
If the parents agree to a change in custody arrangements, all that is required is that the parents submit their agreement to the Agency of Family Law using the appropriate dedicated form. These forms are only available in Danish.
Agreement: Joint custody
Agreement: Cessation of joint custody agreement
Agreement: Transfer of custody from one parent to the other
Disagreement on changing custody arrangements
If one parent does not agree to changing custody arrangements, the parent applying for the change must submit the application for the required change to the Agency of Family Law.
When the Agency of Family Law receives the application, we will normally invite both parents to a meeting at the Agency of Family Law so that we can advise the parents on the rules and practices applicable to custody and assist them in finding the solution that is best for the child.
If our counselling and guidance do not help the parents reach an agreement as to what is best for the child, either parent may request that we take the case to court. The court will then make a decision on custody.
Custody when a parent has died
If a deceased parent had sole custody, the Agency of Family Law must decide who will be awarded custody.
If the parents had joint custody, the surviving parent will usually be awarded sole custody. If the child was not residing with the surviving parent when the deceased parent died, others may apply for custody.
If the parents have joint custody of the child, it is the parent with whom the child resides that decides where the child should live. If the child is to move abroad, to Greenland or to the Faroe Islands, parents must agree on such a move.
If one parent has sole custody, this parent decides where the child should live. This applies to residence both in Denmark and abroad.
If the parents disagree on where the child should live, they may apply to the Agency of Family Law for assistance if they have joint custody. We will help the parents find a solution. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, they may request that we refer the case to the courts. The courts will then decide where the child should live.