Residency and access to children 2002, 2004 and 2012 - Changes in responsibilities and care of children for parents living separately

The share of parents with shared residency of children in 2012 has tripled since 2002. Fewer children live permanently with their mother, while the share of children living permanently with their father has remained stable at 7-8 per cent in the 10-year period.

This is just one of the findings of the report Residency and access to children 2002, 2004 and 2012 - Changes in responsibilities and care of children for parents living separately (Norwegian only - Bosted og samvær 2002, 2004 og 2012 – Endringer i ansvar og omsorg for barna når mor og far bor hver for seg) by Statistics Norway researchers Jan Lyngstad, Ragni Hege Kitterød and Erik H. Nymoen. The report presents surveys based on interviews with parents who live separately in 2002, 2004 and 2012. The responses throw light on the parents’ residency and access arrangements for the youngest child they have together.

Large increase in share of children with two places of residence

Among parents who do not live together, the percentage with shared residency for the child increased from 8 per cent in 2002 to 25 per cent in 2012. The share where the child lives permanently with the mother has fallen from 84 per cent in 2002 to 66 per cent in 2012, while the corresponding share for the father has remained more or less stable at 7-8 per cent.

Shared residency more common among highly educated fathers

In 2012, the share of some of the parent groups in which relatively few had shared residency in 2002 and 2004 had increased to almost the same level as other groups. For example, very few fathers with access rights below the aged of 30 reported having shared residency in 2002 and 2004; 2 and 1 per cent respectively. In 2012, however, a quarter of all fathers under 30 with access to the child reported having shared residency. The difference between those with a lower and higher education, however, was the same in 2012 as in the previous surveys. Fathers with a higher education who had access to the child had shared residency more often than fathers with a lower education in both 2002 and 2012.

Parents with access to children spent more time with them in 2012

The share of monthly visitations between children and parents with access rights increased from 2002 to 2012 by just under 10 percentage points. The number of days in monthly visitations increased from an average of 6.5 days in 2002 to 8.6 days on average in 2012. This is primarily due to a fall in the share of parents that do not have visitation rights, and an increase in the share of parents who have the children roughly 50% of the time. The groups that have had a significant increase in the share with shared residency also had a strong increase in the average monthly visitations.

Fewer with shared residency for older children

The longer it has been since the breakdown of the parents’ relationship, the lower the share of parents that has shared residency. This may be because it is now more common than before for parents to have shared residency. However, it could also be because existing agreements on shared residency and visitation are changed as children grow older and want to have a say in where they will live and how much time they will spend with each parent.

Parents with access rights took more holidays with children in 2012

The share of parents with access rights who spent holidays with the child in 2012 has increased during the 10-year period. In 2002, 83 per cent of such parents spent at least one holiday with the child. Ten years later, the corresponding figure was 89 per cent. More parents with access rights spent the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays with the child in 2012 than in 2002.

Disparity in parents’ responses

Both parents who live permanently with the child, i.e. who have the same registered address as the child, and parents who do not live permanently with the child were interviewed.

There is a major disparity between the responses from resident parents and parents with access rights, with more of the latter reporting shared residency than the resident parents. While 26 per cent of the parents with access rights report shared residency of the child in 2012, only 16 per cent of the resident parents report the same. Disparities were also seen in 2002 and 2004 between the parents' responses, but the difference in terms of percentage points has increased.