Social conditions, welfare and crime

Mediation for parents2011


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Mediation for parents
Topic: Social conditions, welfare and crime

Responsible division

Division for Income and social welfare statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables


The number of mediation cases completed in the relevant year by government-approved family counselling offices and external mediators under the provisions of the Marriage Act and Children Act. Mediation cases started at the end of the year that have not yet been completed are included in the statistics the following year. Mediation is mandatory for married couples with children under 16 upon separation/divorce (Marriage Act) and for cohabitees with children under 16 who separate (Children Act). Parents with children under 16 must also attend mediation before proceedings can be initiated concerning parental responsibility, the child’s permanent residence and access arrangements. This is registered in the mediation statistics as mediation according to the Children Act. The court may refer the parents for further mediation, which is registered in the statistics as returned from court system. The purpose of mediation is for parents to reach agreement on parental responsibility, the child’s permanent residence and access arrangements.


Family counselling offices and external mediators. The county administrator is responsible for ensuring that a competent mediation service is in place, and for granting mediation licences.

Fom 1 January 2008 onwards, Bufetat (the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs) appoints external mediators as needed; for example, lawyers, priests, social workers, psychologists or others within health and social education. (See "Regulations for mediation by the Marriage Act and the Children Act", § 3 and § 4).

Mediation licences are given to a named individual, and are tied to his/her position and workplace.

Mediation for parents is carried out by qualified professionals in government-approved family counselling offices. External mediators who have been granted a mediation licence are also entitled to work in this field. External mediators are qualified professionals employed by public health and social welfare agencies or the Educational and Psychological Counselling Service (PPT) (e.g. social workers, child welfare officers, psychologists, health visitors), priests or pastors in registered religious communities, as well as psychologists, psychiatrists and solicitors in private practice.

Standard classifications

Not relevant

Administrative information

Regional level

Until the end of 2003, family counselling services were undertaken by the county authorities. Responsibility for these services was transferred to the central government on 1 January 2004. Administrative responsibility lies with the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir). The Directorate is organised into five regions that deal with the production of the services.

The respective regions cover the following counties: Region North: Finnmark, Troms and Nordland, Region Middle: Nord-Trøndelag, Sør-Trøndelag and Møre og Romsdal, Region West: Sogn og Fjordane, Hordaland and Rogaland, Region South: Vest-Agder, Aust-Agder, Telemark, Vestfold and Buskerud, Region East: Oppland, Hedmark, Oslo, Akershus and Østfold.

The mediation statistics are a part of the reporting on family counselling. Until 2007, this work was administered by the county administrators. Since 2008, the regional offices for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufetat) have been responsible for reporting the mediation statistics to Statistics Norway, and the statistics are still reported and published at county level.

Frequency and timeliness

Annual. Final figures are published in May/June.

International reporting

Not relevant


The data collected is stored by the Division for social welfare statistics.


Background and purpose

The family counselling service has been available to families and individuals with a need for advice and treatment in connection with problems and crisis situations since 1958. There are currently 52 family counselling offices, all offering mediation.

In 1990, overall responsibility for family counselling was transferred from the Norwegian Directorate of Health to the then Ministry of Children and Families. The Family Counselling Offices Act was introduced in 1998, at which point the Ministry transferred administrative responsibility for the service to the county authorities. During this period, the Ministry approached Statistics Norway and the work on family counselling statistics was initiated. In conjunction with central government’s takeover of the family counselling service in 2004, the administrative responsibility was transferred to the new Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs Bufdir.

Prior to the county authorities assuming administrative responsibility, the family counselling offices were either run by central government or the church. The administrative structure was not standardised at that time, and the offices had different framework conditions, which has led to varying content in the service over time and in relation to ownership structure. These conditions were partly why the then Ministry of Children and Families wanted to review and restructure the service. Even after the government takeover, a distinction is made in family counselling between governmental and church family counselling offices. The church offices are independent units with an operating agreement with the regions.

Families and couples are the key target groups in the family counselling service, but individuals can also apply for help. The family counselling offices’ work is described in the legislation as clinical work/case work, preventive work and mediation for parents.

Mandatory mediation in connection with separation or divorce for all married parents with children under 16 was introduced on 1 January 1993. Mediation is also mandatory for parents who want to contest parental responsibility, the child’s permanent residence or access arrangements with the county administrator or in the courts.

On 1 January 2007, mediation in line with the Children Act was also made mandatory for cohabitees with children under 16 who separate.

Until the end of 2007, county administrators were responsible for ensuring that mandatory mediation took place, with Bufetat assuming responsibility for this in 2008.

The mediation statistics show the scope of the service, use of family counselling offices and external mediators, time spent, waiting times, and the number of appointments. Another aim of the statistics is to provide the ministries, directorates and county authorities with relevant official statistics.

Users and applications

The most important users of the mediation statistics are the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Bufdir, state governing bodies, research institutions, the media and students. The statistics can be used as control information within public planning, education and in public debate.

Coherence with other statistics

The family counselling offices carry out mediation in addition to a number of other tasks. For more details of the family counselling offices and their work, see Statistics Norway's statistics on family counselling .

Legal authority

Statistics Act of 16 June 1989 no. 54, Section 2-2.

Family Counselling Offices Act of 19 June 1997 no. 62, Section 8.

The purpose of mediation is stipulated in Section 26 of the Marriage Act of 4 July 1991 no. 47 and Section 52 of the Children Act of 8 April 1981 no. 6.

EEA reference

Not relevant



The mediation statistics are compiled based on all mediation cases that family counselling offices and external mediators have worked on and completed during the year of reporting.

The mediation statistics contain information on how many mediation cases were completed during the year, the reason for mediation and the legal basis, the waiting time from application to first appointment, and the amount of time spent on each mediation case.

Data sources and sampling

The mediation statistics up to 2008 are based on reporting from the county administrators in the individual counties. The reporting includes information on all mediation carried out at the family counselling offices and by external mediators. The reported data are aggregated based on the data Bufdir collects from the family counselling offices and external mediators.

Since 2008, mediators have reported quarterly to Bufetat (the regions), and this reporting is summarised before being sent to Statistics Norway.

The statistics are based on a full count from the respondents.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Electronic forms are used for mediation reporting.

Statistics Norway receives two forms for each county; one for mediation carried out by family counselling offices, and one for mediation carried out by external mediators.

The electronic forms that are used in the mediation statistics contain a number of controls. When Statistics Norway receives the data, new controls are carried out and figures are checked. Corrections to any errors in the reporting are made after consultation with the relevant respondent.


Not relevant

Comparability over time and space

On 1 January 2007, mediation was imposed on cohabitees with children under 16 who separate. The mediation statistics were also restructured in this year. Since 2007, only completed mediation cases have been included in the statistics. Mediation cases that are started at the end of the reporting year, but are not completed, are included in the mediation statistics in the following year.

Also in 2007, the earlier practice of compiling statistics on the number of mediation certificates was discontinued. Since 2007, a certificate has been issued after the first mediation appointment, regardless of whether the parents have reached agreement or not.

There is therefore a break in the time series in the mediation statistics, and statistics since 2007 are not comparable with earlier years.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Checks are incorporated into the electronic forms submitted to Statistics Norway, and the figures in the forms are checked against each other to ensure that calculations and total figures are correct. Statistics Norway contacts Bufetat in relation to correcting any errors.

Full count, not relevant.