Although this section mainly talks about parents, other people may be involved, like guardians, grandparents, wider family and whānau.

When you separate, your children should be your most important concern.

Sorting out your own parenting arrangements is usually better for you and your children. This is what most people do, and it will usually be quicker and less stressful for everyone than going to court. Children cope more easily with separation when they know the people who care about them are working together.

When you agree on care

If you’re able to agree on care arrangements, you don’t have to do anything else. It’s a good idea to write your arrangements down as a parenting plan so there's no misunderstanding about what you’ve agreed.

You can ask the court to make your agreement into a Consent Order. That means the parenting agreement can be enforced by the court if one person isn’t sticking to the arrangements. 

When you don’t agree on care

If you need help to reach agreement about how you’ll care for your children, there are a range of services to help you:

Find out more about when you don’t agree on care

  • Putting your children first during separation

    Separating can be a stressful time. When children are involved, you need to set aside your relationship issues and work out how they will be cared for.

  • Reaching an agreement

    Advice about how to reach an agreement when it comes to the care of children after parents have separated.

  • Guardians & guardianship

    The Family Court can help decide who can be a guardian and sort out disputes between guardians.

  • Care & protection of children

    The Family Court can help you deal with care & protection declarations.

  • Child support

    If you already have child support arrangements in place, the Family Court can help you get those payments reviewed or enforced. You can also find out how to apply for child support if one of the parents lives overseas.

  • Prove paternity

    The Family Court can decide paternity (who a child’s father is).

  • Stop a child leaving New Zealand

    Get help from the Family Court if you believe your child could be taken out of New Zealand without your permission.

  • Get a child returned to New Zealand

    The Ministry of Justice may be able to help get your child returned to New Zealand if they’ve been taken overseas or kept there without your permission.

  • Adoption

    The Family Court is involved when people adopt a child from within New Zealand.

Watch a video about how family justice works

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