Children and family

Marriage rights and obligations


Excerpt from the Marriage Act:

  • Anyone over the age of 18 who is not already married and living in Norway legally can enter into marriage. Persons between the ages of 16 and 18 years can get married in special cases, provided they have the permission of their parents and the county governor.
  • All marriages must be entered into voluntarily. Men and women have the same right to choose their own marriage partner. The Penal Code states that any person who forces another person into marriage using violence, deprivation of liberty, coercion or threats can be punished by up to six years of imprisonment. Complicity is punishable in the same way.
  • If a person decides that he or she no longer wishes to live together with their spouse, he or she can seek separation. After the couple has been separated for one year, they can apply for a divorce. If no separation is sought, but the couple leaves apart for two years, they can also be granted a divorce. Men and women have the same right to seek separation and apply for a divorce.
  • A spouse can demand a divorce without separation if the other spouse has subjected him or her, or the children, to assault with intent to kill, violence, serious abuse or the fear of it. A spouse can also demand a divorce if the marriage was entered into by force.
  • Spouses share the responsibility to provide for and care for the family. They share the economic responsibility and together are responsible for all necessary work to ensure the well-being of the family. They can contribute to this in different ways, either by earning an income, working in the home, watching the children or other ways. In some cases, a spouse can demand payment by the other spouse to cover necessary expenses. Section § 39 of the Marriage Act states that spouses are required to provide each other with financial information. For example, a spouse can request a copy of the other spouse’s income tax return, bank statements, and so on.
  • Who owns what in a marriage? Everything owned by a person before getting married is still owned by that person after getting married. In addition, all inheritances and gifts received after getting married and personal purchases are owned by that individual. The property owned can be sold or given away without the other spouse’s permission. Everything purchased by the couple together or for the home is owned by the couple.


The Marriage Act governs relations between spouses. Unmarried people living together do not have the same rights and obligations towards one another as married couples do. That is why many cohabitating couples make their own legal agreements.