How can I prevent the relocation of my child?
If it is not urgent then Family Dispute Resolution or Parenting Through Separation are mediation services that help settle disputes between guardians out of Court. If mediation does not work or you need urgent help you can apply to the Family Court for a guardianship direction or a parenting order, preventing the child from relocation. If the order is granted the other parent will not be allowed to remove the child without leave of the Court or the other parent’s consent.
What are the main factors the Court will consider?
The Care of Children Act 2004 outlines that the welfare and best interests of the child in their particular circumstances must be the foremost consideration in any decision concerning the care of children. This means the Court must take the following principles into account:
- The child must be kept safe and protected from all forms of violence;
- The child’s parents and guardians should have the primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of the child;
- There should be ongoing consultation and co-operation between the child’s parents and guardians;
- There should be continuity in the child’s care, development and upbringing;
- The child should continue to have a relationship with both parents, and the child’s relationships with his or her family or whānau should be preserved and strengthened; and
- The child’s identity (culture, language, religion) should be preserved and strengthened.
The Court will weigh the advantages of relocation to the child against the reduced contact the child will have with the other parent.
What are the secondary factors the Court will consider?
The Courts have considered a range of factors in addition to the relevant principles:
- The strength of the child’s relationship with the parent;
- The emotional wellbeing of the parent;
- Financial benefits from relocation;
- The wishes and needs of the child;
- The reasonableness of the parent’s wish to relocate;
- The importance of the relationship with the contact parent;
- The importance of sibling relationships;
- The distance between the two parents homes;
- The potential reduced contact between the other parent and the child;
- The effects of a change of environment on the child;
- The potential to reduce or remove conflict between parents;
- The attitude of the other parent;
- Maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other parent;
- The impact on social support networks;
- The need for a settled environment; and
- The practical consequences of granting relocation (i.e. transport) or declining relocation (i.e. employment).
How long will it take?
Child relocation cases generally take a substantial amount of time, anywhere from 12-18 months before they go to hearing. This means there is a significant legal cost – normally in the tens of thousands of dollars. It is also difficult to reach settlement between the parents; usually the child will either be prevented from moving or will be allowed to move with the other parent.
“The information posted on this website is prepared for a general audience, without investigation into the facts of any particular case. This information is no substitute for legal advice and does not create a lawyer-client relationship; you are advised to consult with a lawyer on any legal issue.”