Family Law

Separating? We can advise and assist with the following:

Need help negotiating the division of Relationship Property?

Having problems negotiating parenting arrangements?

Entering a new relationship? We can help to protect your assets.

We can also help with the following:


Adoption occurs when parents transfer their legal rights and responsibility for a child to adoptive parents. We are able to assist you with making an application under the Adoption Act, through the Family Court.

Sometimes, rather than applying for an adoption, orders are instead made under the Care of Children Act granting the would-be adoptive parents with day to day care and guardianship rights, without legally changing the child’s parentage.

We are able to assist with helping you decide which is the best option for your particular case.

Child Support

Child support is paid by the parent who does not live with their children. It is paid to the parent who has the primary day to day care of the child to help support the child.  However, it will also take into account any care that the paying parent has of their children. Child support can be paid in a number of ways

  1. To the Inland Revenue Department pursuant to a private agreement or a formula assessment.
  2. Directly to the other parent by way of a formal or informal agreement.

Where a formula assessment has been made, it is possible to apply for a review of your child support obligations. We can assist you with this process and provide you with advice as to your child support obligations.

Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce

A dissolution of marriage (previously known as a divorce) can be obtained once the couple has been separated for two years. Dissolutions are obtained by married couples or couples who have entered into a civil union.

Aside from simply obtaining the dissolution, couples also need to give consideration to arrangements for the care of their children as well as the division of their financial affairs/ property.

We can assist you with providing legal advice as to your rights and responsibilities in respect of children and/or property upon a separation as well as helping you obtain the dissolution/divorce.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence includes physical, sexual or psychological abuse. Where there is domestic violence then it may be possible to apply either on notice, or without notice, for a protection order. A protection order prevents the other party (the Respondent) from using domestic violence against the person who applied for the order (the Applicant) or a child of the Applicant.

When the application is urgent, then the Family Court may grant the order without the Respondent first being told that the order has been made. If the protection order is made on an urgent (without notice) basis, then the Respondent will be served with the order once it has been made.

Where a domestic relationship does not exist but there is still ongoing harassment, such as between neighbours, then it may be possible to apply to the District Court for a restraining order to prevent that harassment.

If you are the victim of either domestic violence and/or harassment we can assist you with discussing your options and making the necessary Court applications.

If you have been served with either a protection order, or an application for a protection order, then we can assist you with defending those applications.


Guardianship is the right to have a say in the major decisions affecting your child's upbringing, even if you are separated and your child lives with the other parent. Examples of guardianship issues include:

  1. Your child's name, and any changes to it.
  2. Changes to your child's place of residence.
  3. Major medical treatment for your child.
  4. Where and how your child is to be educated.
  5. Your child's culture, language or religious denomination and practice.

When disputes arise between guardians in respect of the decisions to be made for their child, proceedings can be issued in the Family Court to resolve the matter. Alternatively, it may be possible to reach agreement with the assistance of lawyers without the need to issue proceedings. We can provide advice in respect of these disputes.

We can also assist in providing advice in making an application to be added as a guardian of a child or defending an application.

Orders Preventing Removal of a Child

Generally, one parent is not allowed to remove a child from the city in which they live, or New Zealand, without the consent of the other parent if they are both guardians. If a child has a passport, then it is possible for one parent to remove the child from the country without the other parent's knowledge. If you have concerns that your child/children may be removed without your consent then it is possible to apply to the Family Court on an urgent basis for orders preventing the child/children being removed from New Zealand.

We can assist you with providing advice and making the necessary Court application or defending the application if you are served with one.

Parenting Orders under the Care of Children Act

Applications to Court can be made for parenting orders defining who has the role of providing day to day care (previously custody) and who has contact and at what times (previously known as access).

Sometimes, these matters can be resolved without the need to issue Court proceedings by negotiations through solicitors or Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). At other times, Court proceedings are necessary. The Family Court operates a three track system according to the nature and urgency of your matter.  For all non-urgent matters, parties must first complete a Parenting Through Separation programme and FDR.  If you cannot resolve your matter in this way, then it may be necessary to issue Court proceedings.

We can assist you, whether it be for an initial appointment to simply advise as to the provisions of the law, or to negotiate care arrangements, or if necessary to issue, or defend, Court proceedings on your behalf.


Paternity means establishing who is the father of a child.

It is possible to make an application to the Family Court to either be declared as the father of the child or to declare that a man is not the father of a particular child.

We can assist you with making or defending, any necessary applications in respect of paternity.

Prenuptial/Contracting out Agreements

Couples are able to reach their own agreement as to how their property will be divided in the event of a separation. It is possible to contract out of the legislation either entirely or in part. While such agreements are generally entered into at the beginning of the relationship, they can be entered into at any time during the relationship.

Such agreements are particularly useful where one or other of the parties already has assets that they wish to protect.

To be legally binding the agreement must comply with the requirements of the legislation including that it be in writing and each party must receive independent legal advice.

We can assist you with providing advice as to the provisions of the legislation and drafting the Contracting Out Agreement.

Relationship Property/Matrimonial Property

Upon a separation the division of relationship property is governed by the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (previously known at the Matrimonial Property Act). This Act applies to married couples, de facto couples and those in a civil union. It defines how property is to be divided upon a separation or when one of the parties dies.

After a marriage has lasted for three or more years there is a presumption of equal sharing of all relationship property (although there are exceptions to this rule). Special rules apply to marriages of less than three years.

In respect of de facto partners, generally the Act applies only to relationships that have lasted for three years or more but the Act can apply to de facto relationships of less than three years in certain circumstances.

If it is not possible to reach agreement on the division of property, then an application can be made to the Family Court asking the Court to divide your property.

We can assist you with drafting the necessary Court applications and representing you through the process.  If necessary, we can also advise in respect of urgent Court applications to stop property being sold or disposed of.

If necessary, we can also advise in respect of urgent Court applications to stop property being sold or disposed of.

If parties are able to reach agreement on the division of their property without the need to issue Court proceedings then they can enter into a Property Settlement agreement (also known as a Separation Agreement or Relationship Property Agreement). For an agreement to be legally binding it must be in a written form and comply with the requirements of the legislation, which includes the requirement to obtain independent legal advice.

We can assist you in providing legal advice as to your entitlement under the legislation, negotiation of resolution of the division of property as well as drafting the settlement agreement.

Call 09 299 8550

for an appointment

or email Sarah Bush

Link to a Family Lawyer below

  Family Team


Manukau Pukekohe