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Individual rights & freedoms

Family Court orders for your welfare and property: How decisions can be made when there’s no EPA

When someone applies for an order about you: The court process

Will there be a hearing in front of a judge?

If someone applies for a personal order or property order for you, there may first be a “pre-hearing conference” with a judge, to identify the problem that the person applying for the order wants to deal with. The judge will see if you and that person can agree on how to deal with it without the court having to make any formal court orders.

If the pre-hearing conference doesn’t resolve the issue, the case will go to a full Family Court hearing.

Do I go to the Family Court hearing?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, ss 74, 75

Usually, yes. You have to be at the hearing unless the judge believes that you’re completely unable to understand the case, or that being at the hearing may cause you serious mental, emotional or physical harm, or unless you’re disrupting the hearing so that it can’t carry on with you there.

Who’ll speak up for me and what I want to happen?

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, s 65

The Family Court will make sure you have a lawyer. If you don’t already have one of your own, the court will appoint a lawyer for you, who’ll be paid for by the government.

The court-appointed lawyer will contact you and help you understand the application that’s been made to the court and what the person who’s applying is asking for. The lawyer has to find out what you think about the application and how you want to respond to it, and they have to give effect to what you want. The lawyer will look at why the order was applied for and the solutions proposed by other parties.

The lawyer will make recommendations to the court that are the least restrictive possible and encourage the person to develop capacity.

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Decision making and powers of attorney

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Ministry of Justice

www.justice.govt.nz/family/powers-to-make-decisions

This has information about the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.

Office for Senior Citizens

www.superseniors.msd.govt.nz/finance-planning/enduring-power-of-attorney

This website has useful information and videos, and also templates for preparing an enduring power of attorney.

Public Trust

www.publictrust.co.nz/personal/enduring-power-of-attorney

The Public Trust website has information on enduring powers of attorney.

Phone: 0800 371 471

Welfare Guardians Trusts

www.welfareguardians.nz

This site has information about welfare guardians and links to sites of some local Welfare Guardians Trusts.

People First

www.peoplefirst.org.nz/news-and-resources/easy-read-resources

People First New Zealand is a self advocacy organisation that is led and directed by people with learning (intellectual) disability. They create Easy Read resources which are available free to download on their website. Their resources include:

  • Information on Supported Decision-Making
  • Supported Decision-making tool
  • Enduring power of attorney information.

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