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Communtity Law Manual | Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children | The judge’s decision: When the judge can make care or protection orders

If Oranga Tamariki takes you to court

The judge’s decision: When the judge can make care or protection orders

If I oppose the care or protection orders, how does the judge decide what to do?

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 14, 14AA

If you oppose Oranga Tamariki’s application for care or protection orders, the case will go to a full hearing in the Family Court. The judge will then have to decide whether the case comes within one of the set grounds in the Oranga Tamariki Act for making one of these orders.

These grounds fall into three main areas:

  • Serious harm, neglect or other problems
    • the child is being abused (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), deprived, ill-treated or neglected (or this is likely to happen)
    • the child’s development or wellbeing is being seriously affected (or is likely to be)
    • the child has suffered serious harm through being exposed to family violence
    • the parents or guardians are unable to care for the child, or they are unwilling to care for them or have abandoned them.
  • Behaviour problems
    • the child’s behaving in a way that’s likely to harm other people or themselves (whether physical, mental or emotional harm) and the parents or guardians can’t, or won’t, change the child’s behaviour
    • the child is aged 10, 11, 12 or 13 and they’ve been committing crimes, so that there are serious concerns about the child’s wellbeing. (For children under 10 this on its own isn’t grounds for care or protection orders; for teenagers aged 14 to 17 inclusive, they’re covered by the youth justice system if they’re caught breaking the criminal law.)
  • Conflicts or problems with or between parents
    • the child has serious differences with their parents or guardians, and this is causing (or is likely to cause) serious harm to the child
    • there are serious differences between the parents or guardians, and these are causing (or are likely to cause) serious harm to the child.

    Note: Full hearings in the Family Court to decide whether a child needs care or protection aren’t very common. Usually the parents will agree with Oranga Tamariki not to challenge their view that the child needs care or protection.

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