Family Law in New Zealand: Part One

Family Law NZ

The Family Court deals with lots of issues, from making orders for children not yet born right through to older people who are in need of care and protection.

The Family Justice System

People who have separated can get help outside of the court to help them agree on how they will care for their children. If they can’t agree, they can apply to the Family Court to resolve things.

Help to understand Family Court & what you need to do

If you think you need help court staff can tell you what to do, including which form you’ll need, and explain court processes. They can’t tell you what to say on your forms and they can’t give you legal advice.

If you already have a case in the Family Court and you have specific questions about your case, please use the contact details provided on any letter you have received from the Court about your case. make sure you have your case number (begins with FAM) easily available.

Who can come to a Family Court hearing

Unlike other courts the public isn’t allowed to attend a Family Court hearing. The only people who can be there are people who work at the court, the lawyers and other support people.

Journalists can attend some hearings. But they can’t publish any names or details that might identify anyone involved in the case unless a judge says they can.

Support in the court room

You can bring a support person to wait with you at the court but you will need to ask the judge’s permission to take them into the court room.

If your case is under the Care of Children Act and a support person came with you to counselling or mediation, they have the right to attend the court hearing.

Children in the court room

Children do not attend court. It’s a good idea to find someone to care for your children while you’re at court as courts don’t have child care facilities.

What happens in the court room

If you have a lawyer, they’ll explain what will happen in the court room. They’ll talk on your behalf in the court room. If you have any questions or want the judge to know something you should tell your lawyer before the hearing or during a break. If you’re required to represent yourself you’ll be speaking directly to the judge. The Family Court is less formal than other courts as it has no dock. Sometimes the court room is set up differently so people can talk more freely.

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