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
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.