There are a wide variety of matters which may arise when dealing with children. We advise on all issues relating to children and will be able to advise you as to the best course of action.

About Our Care of Children Services

Care Arrangements

If you and your spouse or partner are able to agree on the care arrangements for children, you can decide whether you consider a verbal agreement to be sufficient or whether you would like the agreement to be formalised in writing. This can be done either by way of a Parenting Agreement, which is a private agreement between you and your spouse or partner, or by way of a Parenting Order made by the Family Court. If you are concerned about your spouse or partner adhering to the agreed arrangement, it would be prudent to obtain a Parenting Order.

If, however, you and your partner have been unable to agree on care arrangements, we can assist in negotiating an agreement on your behalf, failing which you may need to make an application to the Family Court for a Parenting Order.

If your matter is urgent, there are steps you can take in order to obtain appropriate parenting orders from the Family Court. The threshold which needs to be met for the making of urgent orders is relatively high and usually needs to involve a risk to a child’s safety or some kind of undue hardship.

If your matter is not urgent, there are a couple of steps you will need to complete before being eligible to make an application for a Parenting Order, namely, Family Dispute Resolution and a Parenting Through Separation programme. The following link provides more information on this process: https://www.justice.govt.nz/family/care-of-children/

The costs involved in preparing and filing an application for a Parenting Order in the Family Court can usually be kept to under $2,000 plus GST and disbursements as well as the Court filing fee of an additional $220.  Of course, in more complex matters the costs can differ significantly and in the course of our initial consultation we will always discuss with our clients the likely costs involved in addressing their concerns and obtaining the results or orders that are being sought.

Guardianship Matters

Separate from care arrangements for children are guardianship matters. Fathers are not automatically a guardian of a child. A Father will be a child’s guardian if he is named on the child’s birth certificate or the parents were living together at any time during the pregnancy up until the time of birth. Guardians have a legal obligation to consult with each other in relation to all important decisions for a child. These decisions are known as guardianship decisions and include matters such as schooling, medical treatment, religion, naming, travel and place of residence.  

Relocation – Child Abduction

The decision to take a child out of the country is a guardianship decision which needs to be agreed to by both guardians. If you are concerned the other parent may take your child out of the country without your consent, there are immediate steps you may be able to take to prevent this from happening. You would need to make an application to the Family Court for an Order Preventing Removal and you may be able to make your application on an urgent basis depending on the circumstances. We may also be able to immediately implement a temporary border alert with Interpol if certain requirements are met.

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