How The Problem Arises Relocation disputes arise when the guardian who has day to day care of a child wishes to change his/her place of residence, along with that of the child, and the other guardian opposes the relocation. The proposed relocation may be to another country or to another city within New Zealand. Example A typical scenario of a relocation dispute is: Mary and Hohepa have been married for six years and separated a year ago. They have two children, Tama, 5 years and Annabelle, 2 years. The children have lived with Mary in Hamilton since the separation. Hohepa has contact with the children three weekends out of each month. Mary and Hohepa met in Australia. Mary’s family all reside in Australia. Mary now wishes to return to Australia with Tama and Annabelle but Hohepa will not consent. The Legal Issues As Mary wishes to relocate to another country with the children, Hohepa’s consent must be obtained. If Mary and Hohepa are unable to agree on the primary residence of their children, either parent may apply to the Family Court for the Court’s direction. If Hohepa becomes aware that Mary’s departure may be imminent despite his expressed opposition to the move, he may file an Application for an Order Preventing the Children’s Removal from New Zealand, until the Court determines the relocation issue. Relocation disputes are dealt with under the Care of Children Act 2004 (“the Act”). The Act provides that the welfare and best interests of the children are to be the primary consideration and gives express guidance as to what matters the Court must take into account. The welfare of each child is different in every case and must be assessed on its merits. The Act also requires the views of the children to be considered and a lawyer will be appointed by the Court to represent them. If the relocation dispute is to be determined by the Court, a hearing will be held. Following the hearing the Court will make Orders. For example, the Court may make a Parenting Order providing for the children to be in Mary’s day to day care in Australia and for Hohepa to have contact. Enforcement Of Orders When children move outside of the New Zealand jurisdiction, it is important to ensure that Court orders will be adhered to. If they are not, there are enforcement procedures available to the aggrieved party. If the children are allowed to relocate to Australia, a signatory country to The Hague Convention, the relevant authorities of New Zealand and Australia can assist in the enforcement of the orders. New Zealand became a party to The Hague Convention on 1 August 1991. The Act places particular emphasis on the importance of children’s relationships with both parents and it is therefore important to ensure that proper safeguards are in place before children relocate overseas.