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Family law

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 somewhere else 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. If a Parenting Order is already in place you should apply 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 I do to stop the other parent from moving away?

If your child’s other parent wants to move away and wants to take the child with them, you can apply to the Family Court for a guardianship direction or a Parenting Order (or both) to stop the child being moved.

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

A parent that wants 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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Parents, guardians and caregivers

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Access the free “Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet, here. This booklet contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law, and includes information on sexual health and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, healthcare, education, housing and more.
Email for a hard copy: publications@wclc.org.nz
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928

Family Court

The Family Court website covers many topics discussed in this chapter, including how the family court works, care of children, adoption and paternity.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/family

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on what happens with children when parents separate.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/what-happens-to-your-children-when-you-part

Inland Revenue

Inland Revenue’s Child Support webpage has a wide range of forms and guides for parents and caregivers.

Website: www.ird.govt.nz/topics/child-support
Phone: 0800 221 221

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services (ANZASCS)

The ANZASCS website has information about supervised contact and lists contact details for approved providers of supervised contact services.

Website: www.anzascs.org.nz

Alternative Dispute Resolution

There are many kinds of “alternative dispute resolution” that, depending on your personal situation, may be cheaper and more successful than going to the Family Court. These include counselling, mediation and negotiation. The following list is not exhaustive:

Resolution Institute: www.resolution.institute
Website: www.aminz.org.nz
Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Inc (AMINZ): www.fdrc.co.nz
FairWay: www.fairwayresolution.com
Family Works: www.familyworkscentral.org.nz

Oranga Tamariki/Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki’s website has information about the adoption process.

Website: www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/adoption/adopting-in-nz
Phone: 0508 326 459

Department of Internal Affairs

The DIA website has information on how to obtain original birth certificates for adopted children.

Website: www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/adoption-and-fostering/finding-your-birth-parents

Registering your child’s birth

The Smartstart website allows you to register your baby’s birth online.

Website: www.smartstart.services.govt.nz/register-my-baby

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