Around 20 addicts died in 2007 and as a consequence their children were often left without a responsible legal guardian, according to Reykjavik’s Agency for Child Protection.
In most cases the addicts have been mothers and all cases the parent has had sole custody of his or her child. According to parents of those addicted mothers who have passed away, the fathers of their grandchildren are not always capable of raising a child.
In those circumstances the other parent, usually fathers, is automatically awarded custody if the Agency for Child Protection has not been notified of their inability to raise children.
“The day that the mother dies, the father gets custody with all the responsibility and obligations,” Halldóra Gunnarsdóttir, CEO of Reykjavik’s Child Agency for Child Protection, told Morgunbladid.
She also points out that circumstances get a lot more complicated if a step-parent is present who had not been legally registered in domestic partnership. Those step-parents have no legal rights, neither right of access or other rights, when the mother dies, Gunnarsdóttir says.
A mother of a recently deceased addict wrote an article in Morgunbladid earlier this week, about how her grandchildren automatically were put in the custody of their father, who was dealing with addiction himself, although she had been temporally fostering them.