Family law
Personal relationships and their breakdown can lead to some of life’s most difficult and distressing changes. At such time competence and compassion are essential in your legal advisors.

We are acutely aware of the pressures and emotional distress that can arise at these difficult times. We pride ourselves in our ability to assist our clients at the time of their greatest need.


  • Our highly regarded family law team has a vast degree of ability and experience in all areas of family law.
  • As part of a full service firm we can advise on and finalise all aspects of your relationship property settlement including property transfers, trusts, estate planning and other issues as they arise.
  • Our team members appear in various Family Courts throughout Auckland and beyond on a regular basis.  We are familiar with Court processes and procedures and what it takes to maximise your chances of success.
  • While we do not offer Legal Aid we offer the most cost effective service possible to our clients.


Family law

We can ensure that all stages of the adoption process run smoothly so that you can concentrate on and enjoy your new family member.

We get enquiries from blended families where one party wishes to formalise their relationship with their new partner’s child through adoption. We can advise on what other solutions, including guardianship, may work best for you and the child.

If you are a parent of a child or children under the age of 16 and existing care arrangements are not satisfactory we can advise you on how to change and formalise arrangements either by voluntary written agreement or through the Family Court.
Many non-custodial parents pay child support through the IRD while others enter into a private arrangement with the custodial parent.  We can advise as to which method will work best for you. We can also, in appropriate circumstances, assist you to make an application for a departure order whereby the amount stipulated by the IRD is adjusted to better meet your circumstances or make an application to the Family Court to appeal the Commissioner’s decision.
Provided the necessary information and documentation can be supplied, you have been separated for two years and one party is domiciled in New Zealand we can efficiently prepare and arrange for service of dissolution applications whether the parties are based in New Zealand or overseas.
Whether you are the victim of domestic violence or the party accused of committing violence it is essential that you receive competent legal advice as to the options available to you and the ramifications of a Protection Order being made. Our family law team has extensive experience in this area of practice.
The law provides for a number of potential forms of relief for people who may otherwise be denied their legal entitlements when a close family member or a person who has made a promise to make provision in their Will has died.  We have developed a compassionate and common sense approach to deal with cases of this nature, acting for both claimants and respondents.
In most cases the natural parents of a child are his or her guardians.  Guardianship decisions involve more holistic concepts than just day‑to‑day care such as a child’s place of residence, schooling, medical welfare and religion.   The most common guardianship applications include those to do with schooling and relocation and Turner Hopkins can assist you with these applications.  We can help you better understand these concepts and make the appropriate application to the Family Court under the Care of Children Act.

There may also be occasions where a new partner, grandparents or other people with a close relationship with a child wish to apply to be joined as an additional guardians and again we are able to advise upon and assist with those applications.

It is our strong recommendation to clients who are the owners of any property at the time of commencing a de facto relationship or getting married to consider entering into a contracting out agreement to protect their property.  We specialise in tailor-making agreements to suit the needs of you and your partner or spouse.
If you have separated, or are considering separation, and do not have a contacting out agreement in place we can provide clear and practical advice regarding your relationship property entitlements.
Relocation cases are invariably difficult and distressing for those involved as they are premised on a child being removed from their current place of domicile and therefore have the potential to disrupt existing care arrangements.  Relocation applications require careful thought.  We can assist you to put forward your strongest possible case to increase your chances of success.
Such applications require particular sensitivity as they go to the core of the identity of the child and have consequences in a number areas such as parenting and child support.  We can advise on your options as well as preparing the necessary court applications.
When an adult is incapacitated it may become necessary for others to make decisions for him or her regarding their welfare or property and, where no Enduring Powers of Attorney exist, an order under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act may be necessary.  We can advise as to the appropriateness of a potential application to the Family Court, what your ongoing commitments will be and how the process works.  We can also prepare the necessary documents to ensure that the application moves through court process as quickly and smoothly as possible.
We can advise what type of maintenance you may qualify for, including quantum and duration of payment, and make the necessary court applications for you.

  • A friendly and sympathetic approach.
  • Practical and cost effective advice.
  • An understanding of Family Courts procedure.
  • Access to the latest in research.
  • A team approach so that there is always someone here to assist you.

Elise McCabe - Family law specialist

elise clear cut
After many years living overseas, and completing her Masters degree at the London School of Economics, Elise returned to New Zealand in 2001 to start her legal career at one of the large city firms in the corporate litigation department. Quickly realising that she preferred Family Law and dealing with private clients, she now practised in this area exclusively.

Elise specialises in all areas of family law including care of children, domestic violence, separation, relationship property, contracting out agreements, dissolution of marriage, relocation and adoption.  She can also assist with applications to the Court to become personal and property managers of people lacking capacity to act for themselves and applications for restraining orders under the Harassment Act.

Elise is a member of the Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society.

Contact Elise

Do have any family law questions?

Family law FAQs

Most popular

What is the process with adopting a child?

An application to adopt a child, whether the child was born in New Zealand or overseas, is made under the Adoption Act.  Different processes are followed according to where the child was born. In New Zealand adoptions are overseen by Child Youth and Family who must approve the adoption and who match parents who wish to adopt with an available child.  They should be your first point of reference. Adopting a child from overseas can be an extremely complex process. We recommend that you contact ICANZ which is a non-profit organisation providing support to New Zealand families and children from overseas orphanages.

What happens if Parenting Orders are breached?

If Parenting Orders are breached on an ongoing basis an application to the Family Court to remedy this will be necessary.  

What is the difference between day-to-day care and guardianship?

Both parents of a child/children are its guardians and parents should act jointly when making decisions about issues such as where the child lives, where he/she goes to school, what religion he/she practices and whether he/she should be given certain medical treatments. Guardianship does not cease when a parent does not have the physical care of a child.

Day to day care involves making arrangements for a child’s care on a daily basis.

I have concerns about how much child support I am paying/receiving. Who should I talk to?

The Inland revenue Department should be your first point of contact with any questions and concerns about child support, including collection of child support and arrears. If you believe that you are paying too much child support or not receiving enough you can apply to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue for a Departure Order. The IRD website has all the information you need to make an application.  If you have had an application for Departure Order declined by the Commissioner an appeal can be filed with the Family Court.  We can assist with this.
More Family law FAQs