Norwegian Family Law – an overview

During the marriage

During marriage, the spouses have joint responsibility to support both the family and each other.

Both spouses are free to dispose over what he or she owns before contracting a marriage. They are also free to dispose assets/income generated during the marriage. Further, a spouse may not normally contract debts which affect the other spouse.

Marital agreements/Marriage settlements

Spouses frequently enter into Marriage Settlements, and both pre- and postnuptial agreements are legally binding in Norway, if the formalities for entering into marital agreements have been taken into account and the content is in compliance with Norwegian law.

The marital agreement must be made in writing and signed in the presence of, and testified by two witnesses.

Most disputes concerning marital agreements do not regard their validity. The essence of the disputes tend to regard the interpretation of what the parties have meant with different clauses.

Marriage settlements are binding between the spouses when the agreement is signed. If the Marriage agreement aims to confer protection against creditors, it must be registered in The Register of Marriage Settlements – .

The most common element in a Marriage Settlement regards the separation of property/assets for one or both spouses.

Gifts between spouses have to be confirmed through marital agreements.

According to Norwegian Family Law, the parties are allowed to agree to a distinction between death and divorce: Separate property in case of divorce, joint property in case of death.

It is not possible to make legally binding marital agreements regarding spousal maintenance or agreements that provides a lump sum in compensation in case of divorce.

Separation and divorce

Normally, licence for separation and divorce will be granted by the County Governor and not by the Court.

Division of assets are usually dealt with privately, rather than through litigation and court proceedings.

When separated, the spouses are no longer obliged to support each other.

Divorce – without a marital agreement

All wealth generate during the period of marriage is shared between the spouses, subject to some restrictions. The restrictions will not be based on the spouses’ needs, but eventually depend on how each of them have spent or misspent their income during the marriage.

Each spouse may keep what he or she owned before they get married, or later have received as natural or testamentary inheritance or gift, as long as the value of the fortune is intact.

Spousal support/maintenance

According to our Marriage Act, it is unusual for a spouse to be granted maintenance after a divorce in Norway.

In certain cases, spouses who have limited possibilities to support him or herself, may be granted spousal maintenance for a period limited to 3 years.

In cases where the parties have been married for a very long time, and/or the spouse is old or sick and because of that unable to support him or herself, it may be possible to get maintenance for a longer period.

Levels of spousal maintenance are in such cases relatively low.

Norwegian Family Law

Read more about Family Law in Norway in our article in Thomsen Reuters, Blue Book – Family Global Guide