Visitation in a cross-border family situation

When you break up, you must reach an agreement on how visitation with the child will work

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When you break up, separate, or divorce, a distinction is always made between the parent with whom the child has a permanent address (the resident parent) and the other parent (the non-resident parent). You are thus the non-resident parent and have so-called visitation with your child if the registered address of the child is that of the other parent. You are a resident parent if you and your child have the same registered address. If you have so-called shared visitation the child spends equal time with each of you, there is still a resident parent and a non-resident parent.

In general, you reach agreement yourselves as to the scope of visitation. There are no rules on the manner or amount of visitation your child can or shall have with the non-resident parent. It is entirely up to you to deem what is best for your child. If the Agency of Family Law is to determine visitation, such takes place after a concrete assessment of the child’s circumstances.

Custody and visitation are not directly related to each other. For example, even if you have sole custody of your child, it may well be you who is the non-resident parent and not the resident parent.

Your child has a right to both of their parents, and it is your joint responsibility for the child to have a good relationship and regular contact with both of you, even with the one of you with whom the child does not live.

In most cases, the parents themselves reach agreement on how visitation shall take place and how often. If necessary, you can create a visitation agreement in writing, which is as equally binding as those made by the Agency of Family Law. A form for your use in creating such an agreement is available on the Agency of Family Law website. It is a good idea to use that form so that your agreement is as precise as possible in order to avoid future disagreements as to what has been agreed.

If you cannot reach agreement on how visitation shall take place and how often, you can get help from the Agency of Family Law.

As parents, you decide for yourselves where the child shall live when you break up. You also reach agreement yourselves on how much visitation the child shall have with the parent with whom the child does not live. It is your responsibility for the child to have a good relationship and regular contact with both of you and for the visitation to work well.

There are no rules on the manner or amount of visitation the child can or shall have with the parent with whom the child does not live. It is entirely up to you to deem what is best for your child.

It is a good idea to make your own written visitation agreement, which is as equally binding as those made by a public authority.

If you cannot come to an agreement on a visitation arrangement, you can get help from the Agency of Family Law. The Agency of Family Law can help you with parental cooperation and to reach agreements that work well for your child. If you still cannot manage to agree on a visitation arrangement, the Agency of Family Law or the Family Court can make a decision. Such a decision is made based on what is best for your child, and will always be on the basis of a concrete assessment of the child’s circumstances.

In conjunction with a break up, most parents make oral agreements with each other as to where the child shall live and how much visitation the child shall have with the parent with whom the child does not live.

If you are in agreement on how visitation shall take place, you may choose to make a written agreement on visitation; a so-called visitation agreement. While your oral agreements are not enforceable in practice, a written visitation agreement is as equally binding as an agreement or decision made by a public authority. In other words, the agreement you make yourselves can be used to enforce visitation with the help of the Family Court if one of you fails to comply with the agreement.

The written agreement is your own and you need not inform the public authorities about it.

If you disagree about how visitation shall take place, please contact the Agency of Family Law.

When you break up, it is your joint responsibility for the child to have a good relationship and regular contact with both of you, even with the one of you with whom the child does not live.

There is no need for binding, written visitation agreements as long as you are in agreement regarding with whom the child shall live and how much visitation the child shall have with the other parent. You are perfectly able to change the agreements. Just keep in mind that it is the needs of the child that must remain in focus.

If you wish to make a binding visitation agreement, you can either make it yourself or ask the Agency of Family Law for help.

When you break up and make agreements as to where your common child shall live and how much visitation the child shall have with the parent with whom the child does not live, such is called a visitation arrangement. If you choose for your child to live equally at each place, e.g. one week at a time with each parent, the visitation arrangement is called shared visitation.

Even if you have shared visitation, a distinction is always made between the parent with whom the child has their registered address (the resident parent) and the other parent (the non-resident parent).

In conjunction with a break up, most parents make oral agreements with each other as to where the child shall live and how much visitation the child shall have with the parent with whom the child does not live. As parents, you do not have to involve the Agency of Family Law in such agreements, nor if you make changes to your agreements.

If you have made a written visitation agreement, or if the Agency of Family Law made a visitation agreement for you, you can change it at any time, as long as you are in agreement regarding the changes.

If only one of you wants to change the written visitation agreement that you have made yourselves, or change the visitation arrangement that the Agency of Family Law or the court has established for you, the Agency of Family Law can generally only make a new agreement if the situation has changed significantly since the old agreement was made. Under all circumstances, the changes shall be in the best interests of the child. If in doubt, you can always contact the Agency of Family Law.

If you cannot come to an agreement on visitation and how to divide it, the Agency of Family Law can help you find a solution. It’s always best for your child if you find a solution with which you cooperate. At the Agency of Family Law, you can get guidance, counselling by a child expert, or conflict mediation. The Agency of Family Law may also potentially have a conversation with your child and obtain information from the child’s nursery, kindergarten, or school, if relevant.

If there is no success in finding a solution, then the Agency of Family Law decides how the visitation will be divided up. In some cases, the court will decide the case, e.g. if the court is also hearing a case for you concerning custody or your child’s residence.

It is your responsibility as parents to cooperate about your child when you break up or get divorced.

The solutions that you either arrive at yourselves, or that the authorities arrive at, shall focus on the child’s well-being. It is important that you respect and stick to the agreements or decisions that have been made about e.g. visitation.

If the Agency of Family Law has specified the times for visitation and the parent with whom the child lives does not want to release the child or otherwise prevents visitation between you and your child, you can have the Family Court help you get the child released.

You can also have the Family Court help you get the child released if you have made a written visitation agreement yourselves and it is not observed. However, you should be aware that in order for your written agreement to be used for that, it must include the text ‘den kan tjene som grundlag for fuldbyrdelse’ (‘this can serve as a basis for enforcement’).

If you have an oral agreement on visitation, it is not enforceable in practice. You can instead make a written agreement with the child’s other parent, or ask the Agency of Family Law for help with a binding agreement.

If you have the child living with you, you may experience the other parent – the non-resident parent – not picking up the child at the agreed or set time. In that situation, the authorities cannot help by enforcing the visitation. Thus, it is not possible to enforce a visitation, to which the other person has the right, if they do not want it. The Agency of Family Law can, however, offer you counselling by a child expert or conflict mediation.

As parents, you have a shared responsibility to drop off and pick up your child in conjunction with visitation. You shall arrange transportation of the child yourselves, without involving the Agency of Family Law. You shall agree on a transportation arrangement that you believe is best for your child and most appropriate for your situation.

The Agency of Family Law cannot normally take a position on how such transportation shall take place.

If you as parents disagree about the visitation agreements, the Agency of Family Law handles the case and helps you find a solution.

The Agency of Family Law is obliged to consider the child’s perspective. How that is done is evaluated from case to case. For example, the Agency of Family Law has the option of obtaining information from schools, kindergartens, or municipalities, and in some cases the Agency of Family Law will call the child in for a conversation.

If your child is at least 10 years of age, they have the right to independently request the Agency of Family Law to call you in for a meeting to change, for example, visitation and residence. Even though the child has the right to give their opinion, this does not mean that the child decides where they will live and how much visitation they will have with the parent with whom the child does not live.

If you can arrive at a mutual agreement on visitation, you can make a written agreement yourselves. Your agreement is as equally binding as an agreement or decision made by the Agency of Family Law.

If you agree about how visitation shall take place, you need not contact the Agency of Family Law.  We have made a form that you can use. You shall just sign the agreement in duplicate, so that you each have one copy. Thus, it is not necessary to send the agreement to the Agency of Family Law.

When you are making the agreement, be aware that the Agency of Family Law can normally only change an agreement on visitation if something significant has happened since you entered into the agreement.

Application for change of visitation – If you are a parent

As parents, it is your joint responsibility for the child to have a good relationship with both parents, even if you have broken up. If you cannot come to an agreement on a visitation arrangement, you can seek help from the Agency of Family Law.

Apply for change of visitation – If you are not a parent 

In special cases, persons other than the parents may get scheduled visitation with a child. If you wish for the Agency of Family Law to help you enter into agreements on visitation or on changing of visitation, you can apply for such.

When the Agency of Family Law makes a decision on visitation, the child’s residence, or custody, the decision states how you can appeal against it.

You shall send an appeal to the Agency of Family Law no later than four weeks after you have received the decision. Once the Agency of Family Law has received your appeal, we pass it on to the Family Court.

The Agency of Family Law may also decide to reopen the case if:

  • The appeal contains an application on which the Agency of Family Law has not taken a position
  • The appeal contains significant new information
  • The case contains significant information on which the Agency of Family Law has not taken a position
  • There have been procedural errors, which potentially have a bearing on the decision.

You cannot appeal against

The Agency of Family Law’s registration or noting of an agreement cannot be brought before the Family Court, but the Agency of Family Law can instead reopen the case.

The Agency of Family Law’s decisions on access to documents by virtue of the Public Administration Act or the Danish Open Administration Act cannot be brought before the Family Court. However, the Agency of Family Law shall resume processing the request for access to documents.

Last updated: 12 December 2020