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Family Law

Parents, guardians and caregivers

Explaining the Care of Children Act and what happens if there is a dispute

What this chapter covers

  • Guardianship of children Who a child’s guardians are, the responsibilities of guardians and the different types of guardians
  • Paternity How paternity (fatherhood) can be legally decided
  • Abortion (“Termination”) The rules around when you can get an abortion, including who makes the decision and how
  • Adoption Who can adopt and be adopted, the laws around consent and the court process for getting an adoption order
  • The Family Court An overview of the Family Court and its processes, including the types of cases it deals with
  • Care arrangements when parents have separated Making your own agreement for day-to-day care (custody) of your children if you’re splitting up, and going to the Family Court for a parenting order if you can’t agree
  • Relocation disputes and international child abduction Resolving disputes with your ex-partner about where your child will live and what you can do if you’re worried your ex wants to take your child out of the country
  • Child support When a parent is responsible for paying child support and how the amount is calculated
  • Where to go for more support Other information and resources

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Parents, guardians & caregivers

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children


Phone: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)
Email: enquiry@ot.govt.nz

This web page has information about the adoption process.

Family Court


The Family Court website includes information on the topics in this chapter.

Family Court fee waiver forms


Department of Internal Affairs


This DIA webpage has information on how to obtain original birth certificates for adopted children.

Parents can now register their baby’s birth online at: www.smartstart.services.govt.nz/register-my-baby

“What happens to your children when you part?” (pamphlet)

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

This New Zealand Law Society pamphlet covers guardianship, care of and contact with children, how disputes are resolved, and other child-focused issues. Access the pamphlet online or order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Inland Revenue


Phone: 0800 221 221

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

Alternative dispute resolution

www.resolution.institute – Resolution Institute is a community of mediators, arbitrators, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other DR professionals.

www.aminz.org.nz – AMINZ (Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand).

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. You can find out more at the above websites

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services


The ANZASCS website has information about organisations that are approved as providers of supervised contact services.

“Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet


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.

Order hard copies from:
Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley
Phone: (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz or visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free online.

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Community Law Manual is a trail-blazing resource that helps Kiwis (and their advocates) help themselves. The Manual contains over 800 pages of easy-to-read legal info, on just about every area of community and personal life. Re-released every year in July, the Manual provides comprehensive answers to common legal questions.

Buy The Community Law Manual

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