The Norwegian Law

: Japanese Fairy Tales

In many respects the laws of marriage and divorce in Norway resemble those

of Denmark. There are, of course, historical and political reasons for the


MARRIAGE.--The law of Norway fixes 20 years as the minimum marriageable

age for a man and 16 years for a woman. These provisions are often

interpreted, however, by the courts, as having reference to the age of

puberty, and as this age varies wit
different persons the law is not

always followed literally, particularly as regards the marriageable age of

a woman. Neither male nor female under the age of 18 years is allowed to

marry without the consent of parents or guardians.

The validity of an objection to the marriage on the part of parents or

guardians can be tested in court, and although causes for such objections

are not specified or limited by statute they are kept within reasonable

grounds through long-established precedent.

IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE.--No man or woman may marry a relative by blood in

the direct line. No man can many his full or half sister.

Persons convicted of having committed adultery with each other may not

marry without first obtaining permission of the civil authorities.

A person bound by a marriage not dissolved through natural or legal causes

is not allowed to enter into any other matrimonial alliance.

After the death of her husband a widow must wait nine months before she

can contract a new marriage, but this waiting period can be shortened by

dispensation, especially if she proves that she is not pregnant.

PRELIMINARIES.--In case of religious marriage one publication of banns is

sufficient, and even this can be dispensed with in some instances. For a

civil marriage no publication of banns is required.

CELEBRATION.--Marriages must be solemnized before a minister of the

Lutheran Church or by some person authorized by the State to officiate,

and in the presence of two competent witnesses. The wedding celebration

may take place either in church or in a private house.

All notaries have legal authority to perform civil marriages, but only

between persons at least one of whom does not belong to the State church.

ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE.--Nullity is of two kinds--absolute and relative. In

the case of the latter the marriage is considered as valid until declared

otherwise, generally on the application of one of the parties. A marriage

is absolutely null if at its celebration there was no declaration of the

clergyman or of the civil official that the couple were man and wife, or

if proof exists of bigamy or of relationship within the prohibited


DIVORCE AND SEPARATION.--An absolute divorce may be obtained for

sufficient cause either by royal decree or by judicial determination. The

most usual form is by royal decree, which is granted in the following


1. When one at least of the causes prescribed by law is proven.

2. After a separation from bed and board has lasted three years. In such a

case the royal decree is granted either on the petition of both parties,

or, if circumstances justify, on the petition of one of the parties.

3. It may be granted by royal decree without any preceding separation.

This form of divorce is granted either when legal cause for divorce exists

or when the ground is otherwise considered sufficient.

A judicial decree of absolute divorce is obtainable for the following


1. Adultery.

2. Bigamy.

3. Wilful desertion for at least three years.

4. Assault and cruel treatment endangering the life of the complainant.

5. Absence for seven years, especially if no information has been received

of the absentee during that period.

If the facts as shown leave little or no doubt as to the death of the

absent party, a divorce can be granted after three years' absence.

6. Imprisonment for life, after the innocent party has waited seven years.

In addition to these grounds a divorce by royal decree can be obtained

when one of the parties has become incurably insane or has been sentenced

to prison for at least three years; or when the parties, by mutual

agreement, have lived entirely apart for fully six years, and the facts

show that domestic peace and the well-being of the parties are not

promoted by their continuing as husband and wife.

LIMITATIONS.--If the act complained of was committed by the consent or

procurement of the complainant, or if the latter has voluntarily cohabited

with the offender after discovery of his or her guilt, or if the

complainant has been guilty of a similar offence, divorce will be refused.

EFFECTS OF DIVORCEMENT.--Each of the parties receives one-half of the

common property, but agreements are permitted by which the man retains

all such property on condition of paying the woman an annual allowance.

The duty of mutual assistance ceases, although if justice demands the man

may be ordered to pay alimony to the woman. The Norwegian law contains no

hard-and-fast rule as to the custody of the children of divorced parents.

When no agreement exists between the parties the innocent party is

generally given custody of all the children.

A woman who obtains a decree of divorce against her husband is allowed to

retain the name and rank of her ex-husband.

SEPARATION.--A separation from bed and board may be granted either on the

mutual consent of both parties, or by royal decree on the petition of one

of the parties if reasonable grounds exist.