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Family & Social Welfare

Divorce and separation

Divorce frequently results in substantial social changes and mental strain. The proceedings are carried out by district magistrates and counsellors, and professional assistance can be obtained from social workers, psychologists, religious associations, lawyers and medical doctors.


Divorce is finalised by district magistrates who issue a final divorce decree. If the married people are unable to reach a settlement on a divorce, the case will be referred to the court system.

To begin with a legal separation is granted, but after a specific period, if other conditions are met, a final divorce decree is granted.

Under certain circumstances a final divorce decree may be requested without prior legal separation, such as because of adultery, prolonged separation because of irreconcilability, or because of abuse that has been perpetrated against a spouse or a child.

Married people with children under the age of 18 must seek mediation with a religious minister, the head of a religious association, or with a district magistrate if they do not belong to any religious association.

Issues on which a position must be taken before a divorce decree is granted include:

  • custody and the domicile of children,

  • visitation rights,

  • child-support payments,

  • alimony, and

  • division of assets, that is, how matrimonial assets are to be divided up.

Dissolution of cohabitation

For a dissolution of a cohabitation of people without children, it is sufficient to inform Registers Iceland of any change in domicile.

People living in a registered cohabitation with common offspring must go to the district magistrate, give notification of the dissolution of cohabitation, and make arrangements for the domiciling of their children and the payment of child support. The district magistrate can also authorise a settlement regarding visitation rights.