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Communtity Law Manual | Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children | The first step: Oranga Tamariki applies for care or protection orders

If Oranga Tamariki takes you to court

The first step: Oranga Tamariki applies for care or protection orders

When Oranga Tamariki applies for care or protection orders

If Oranga Tamariki want to bring your child under the child protection laws and use powers like monitoring what’s happening with your child and your whānau, they’ll need to go in front of a Family Court judge and apply for official court orders. This could be, for example, an order putting your child in the care of Oranga Tamariki (a “custody order”), or possibly an order that you or someone else in your family or whānau isn’t allowed to have contact with the child (a “restraining order”).

Oranga Tamariki will need to show that your child needs care or protection on one of the grounds in the Oranga Tamariki Act.

Usually a Family Group Conference will have been held before Oranga Tamariki applies to the Family Court. If the Family Group Conference was able to agree on a plan about what to do and action under that plan progresses like it’s supposed to, then the case usually won’t go to the Family Court at all. But if a second meeting of the Family Group Conference after a set time (a “review meeting”) finds that there wasn’t enough progress in doing what the plan says (like the things the parents were supposed to do), then Oranga Tamariki may decide to go to the Family Court. It’s a more serious action that Oranga Tamariki can take if they think the less serious course of action, the Family Group Conference, has failed to deal with the problems.

In urgent cases Oranga Tamariki may decide to apply to the Family Court straight away rather than going through the Family Group Conference process. But then a Family Group Conference has to be held anyway, after the application is made but before the judge decides the case.

How you’ll find out if Oranga Tamariki has applied to the Family Court

As the child’s parent, you’ll be given a copy of Oranga Tamariki’s application for care or protection orders. You’ll also be told when the case is going to be dealt with in the Family Court.

If Oranga Tamariki have also got a temporary custody order from the Family Court giving them or someone else custody of your child (also called “day-to-day care”), you’ll also be given a copy of this order.

If your child is 12 or older, the Family Court will also give them a copy of the application.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 153

The Family Court will choose a lawyer to represent the child, and you’ll be told who that lawyer is.

Changes to the steps used in care and protection cases in the Family Court – No more “declarations” from July 2019

Before July 2019, if Oranga Tamariki wanted to get the Family Court to make specific care or protection orders for a child (like a custody order), they would first have to apply for a “declaration” from the judge that the child needs care or protection. That first step has now been removed – now Oranga Tamariki will just apply directly to the judge for one or more of the various care or protection orders that can be made. In other words, this changes the old two-step process into one step.

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