Public authorities are under an obligation to establish the paternity of a child whose paternity has not yet been established.
Parental responsibility is the obligation and right of parents to make decisions for a child in personal circumstances. The person or persons who have parental responsibility are also the child’s legal guardian(s).
If the parents are married to each other, the man to whom the mother is married at the birth is automatically considered to be the child’s father; this is known as the “pater est principle”. Neither the parents nor the public authorities need then do anything. Married parents are also automatically awarded joint parental responsibility for the child.
If the child’s mother is formally separated from her spouse at the time of birth, the paternity is established as though the mother were unmarried. However, if the separated spouse acknowledges paternity, the child will be considered as having been born to married parents.
If the child’s parents are not married, paternity is usually established by the mother stating the name of the father, who then acknowledges paternity. If the mother does not state the name of the child’s father and a man acknowledges paternity, the mother must accept his acknowledgement.
If the parents are not living together when paternity is established, the mother has deemed as having sole parental responsibility. However, the parents may agree joint parental responsibility, either in connection with the acknowledgement of paternity or by submitting a separate agreement to this effect to the National Population Register.
Parents who live together when paternity is established are also automatically granted joint parental responsibility.
If no acknowledgement of paternity is submitted, the establishment of paternity falls to public authorities. This responsibility is handled by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) and, if necessary, the courts. In connection with this, it may be relevant to summon any potential parties and establish paternity by DNA analysis.
Acknowledgement of paternity
The father may acknowledge paternity before the birth, in connection with the birth, and after the birth. Acknowledgement of paternity must be made in writing using the established form developed by NAV. The father must submit the form in person and produce proof of identity to one of the authorities below:
- Doctor/midwife in connection with a pregnancy check-up/birth
- Tax office
- Local NAV office
- Norwegian diplomatic or consular officer, living abroad
In the event of doubt regarding paternity as a result of marriage or acknowledgement of paternity, the child, mother, father or third party who believes himself to be the father of the child, may bring the case before a court to change paternity. If a court has previously established the paternity, but a DNA analysis does not exist, a petition may be submitted to reopen the case.
Paternity may also be changed by NAV if a man acknowledges paternity, and the acknowledgement is approved by the child’s mother and person originally designated as the father. If the child is 18 years old or older, the child must also consent to a change in paternity. Paternity may only be changed if a DNA analysis identifies the other man as the child’s father.