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Communtity Law Manual | Parents, guardians & caregivers | Relocation disputes and international child abduction

Relocation disputes and international child abduction

Relocation within New Zealand

Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 46R, 48, 56

What should I do if I want to move elsewhere within New Zealand?

If you want to move to somewhere else in New Zealand (called “relocating”) and the other parent doesn’t agree to this, you should apply to the Family Court for a guardianship direction and a parenting order, or for a variation to an existing order.

In making a decision in these cases, the Family Court will consider:

  • the child’s relationships with the two parents
  • the parents’ relationship with each other
  • what care arrangements would look like after the move (for example, how far away the child would be from the other parent, and what the cost of travel would be, taking into account the parents’ financial resources)
  • the child’s age and ability to adapt
  • what the child wants
  • the well-being of the parent who wants to move
  • the advantages for the child of a new environment.

    Note: The Care of Children Act recognises that it’s generally in a child’s best interests to continue having a relationship with both parents. It can therefore be difficult for a parent who wants to move to convince the Family Court that this would be in the child’s best interests.

What should a parent do to stop the other parent from moving away?

If your child’s other parent wants to move away, taking the child with them, you can apply to the Family Court for a guardianship direction or a parenting order or both, preventing the child being moved.

What can a parent do to have a child returned after they’ve moved away?

A parent wishing to have a child returned after they have moved with the other parent to somewhere else in New Zealand, should apply for a guardianship direction and/or a parenting order from the Family Court.

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