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Communtity Law Manual | Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children | If Oranga Tamariki takes urgent action

If Oranga Tamariki takes urgent action

When Oranga Tamariki applies for urgent court orders

When Oranga Tamariki makes an urgent application to the Family Court

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 78

Usually Oranga Tamariki won’t take a case to the Family Court for a Care and Protection Order until after they’ve been through a Family Group Conference process.

But if they decide the case is very serious, Oranga Tamariki may decide they need to take urgent action and have the child removed from the parents or caregivers immediately. In that case they will apply straightaway to the judge for a temporary (“interim”) custody order. Under the interim order the child will be placed in their care straightaway and stay there while Oranga Tamariki’s application for full orders is going through the court system.

Cases: [2007] NZCA 453 – [2008] NZCA 169

Oranga Tamariki will usually apply for this temporary order “without notice” (sometimes also called “ex parte”) – this means that you won’t be told they’ve applied, and so you won’t get a chance to go in front of the judge and oppose the interim order before the judge decides whether to make it.

The judge will usually deal with the urgent application on the same day as it’s made.

To be able to make the interim custody order, the judge will have to be satisfied that the situation is very serious and that the child can’t be adequately protected by some order short of a custody order – like a temporary support order for example, where Oranga Tamariki would provide some help and supervision.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 39

Oranga Tamariki may also apply for a court warrant to give the police power to come around to your place and take your child away with them (these are called “place of safety warrants”).

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 82

When an interim custody order has been made, Oranga Tamariki can decide to return the child to the parents or caregivers (so long as they’ve consulted with any lawyer for the child who’s been appointed by the Family Court), or to let them have contact with the child (access).

If Oranga Tamariki gets an interim custody order in these situations, it will still have to arrange a Family Group Conference before the judge decides whether or not to make a full custody order.

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