we will do it together

Family Law

Family Violence

Family violence (previously referred to as Domestic Violence) is hurting a family member or someone you are in a close personal relationship with. Family violence can be hurting someone physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically and/or financially.

Family Violence can happen in many kinds of relationships, including between:

  • Husbands and Wives,
  • Civil union partner’s,
  • de facto (living together) partners,
  • People who are biological parents of the same person,
  • People related by blood,
  • People related through marriage, civil union, de facto relationships or adoption,
  • Members of the same family/whānau or other culturally recognised family group,
  • Flatmates or other people who live in the same house or flat,
  • People in a close personal relationship who don’t live together,
  • People in care/carer relationships if it’s also a close personal relationship.

A Police Safety Order (PSO) may be issued by Police when they attend a family violence incident. The PSO means the person being violent must leave the property temporarily, even if they own the property and live there. Police do not need the consent of the victim to issue a PSO.
The PSO can last up to ten days. This allows time for both the protected person and the person bound by the PSO to get help.
If the person bound by the PSO doesn’t keep the rules, Police may charge them, and they may have to go to court.
Find out more about Police Safety Orders (PSO).

A Protection Order is an Order made by the Family Court that stops the person who has been violent to you and/or your child(ren) from continuing to hurt you and/or your child(ren).

You can apply for a Protection Order if you are in, or have been in, a close personal relationship with a person being violent towards you. If you are not in a close personal relationship with the person who is being violent towards you, you can apply for a Restraining Order instead.

If you need urgent protection, the Family Court can make a temporary Protection Order, usually on the same day. We call this “Without Notice” as you can get the Protection Order without the violent person being told first. They are told once the temporary Protection Order is in place.

If your Protection Order Application was “Without Notice” or urgent” and a temporary Protection Order was given to you, the violent person has three months to defend themselves in court. If they do not, it becomes final and lasts until someone applies to the court to change it.
If your application is “not urgent”, the violent person is served with your application and will have the chance to defend themselves in court. The judge will listen to the evidence from both sides and decide if a Protection Order should be issued.

If the violent person does not respond to the temporary Protection Order, it automatically becomes final after three months. It will last until either you or the violent person apply to the court to end it. The court will not end it unless it is satisfied that the reasons for the Protection Order are no longer an issue and the violent person is no longer a risk to the person who applied.

Please contact Epsilon Law for further information.

A Protection Order has two main conditions: no violence and no contact with the people protected by the Order.

‘No violence’ condition
The violent person must not:

  • abuse (physically, sexually, financially or psychologically) the protected people
  • threaten to physically or sexually abuse the protected people
  • damage, or threaten to damage, property that belongs to the protected people
  • encourage anyone else to abuse or threaten the protected people.

‘No contact’ condition
The person who’s been violent must not:

  • go to the home, workplace or school of the protected people
  • stalk the protected people by hanging around where they live, work or study
  • follow the protected people
  • try to stop the protected people from coming or going anywhere
  • phone, text, email, send letters, fax or contact the protected people in any other way.

If the person who applied for the Protection Order (called the Applicant) wants to have contact with the person who’s been violent (called the Respondent) they must give consent in writing. However, if the court included special conditions restricting contact (such as supervised contact for a child or other no-contact conditions) they must be followed. The Applicant can change their mind and stop contact with the respondent at any time in any way, they do not need to do it in writing they can just tell them.
‘No contact’ conditions do not apply if the Respondent and the Applicant live together.

Contact with the other person
The applicant and the respondent can’t have contact with each other unless:

  • there’s an emergency and the contact is reasonably necessary
  • contact is part of a court Order (such as a Parenting Order) or a written parenting agreement between the applicant and the respondent
  • the contact is listed as a special condition of the Protection Order
  • they need to take part in a family group conference, restorative justice conference, settlement conference under the Care of Children Act or any other court proceedings.
    In some cases, the Protection Order will let the applicant have contact with their children. If this happens, it may be under supervision.

If the conditions are broken
If the respondent breaks the conditions of a Protection Order, the Police can arrest them and they could appear in the criminal court. If they are found guilty of breaking the conditions of a Protection Order, they could be sent to prison for up to three years. 

A Property Order says who can live in a specific house or flat.
A Furniture Order says who can keep the furniture including appliances, like a fridge and beds.

If you apply for a Protection Order, you can apply for a Property Order and Furniture Order at the same time.

There are two kinds of Property Orders:

  • An Occupation Order gives the person who applied for a Protection Order the right to live in the house or flat where they’re now living (or somewhere else you want to live). It means the person who’s been violent isn’t allowed to live there without your agreement.
  • A Tenancy Order says that the person who’s been violent is no longer the tenant of a house they’ve been renting with you. You can still live there, but the person who’s been violent can’t.

Keeping furniture
If you’ve applied for a Protection Order and want to stay in the house or flat you shared with the person who’s been violent, you can apply for an Ancillary Furniture Order to keep the furniture and appliances in your house or flat. 
If you want to move out, you can apply for a Furniture Order to take all or some of the furniture and appliances to your new home.
It doesn’t matter who owns the furniture.

If the person who’s been violent doesn’t leave the property
If the person who’s been violent stays in the property when there’s an Occupation Order or Tenancy Order, they can be arrested by the Police for breaching the Protection Order and removed.

You might have been told that someone has applied for a Protection Order against you, or you might have been served with a temporary Protection Order, which is already in place.
If you have been served with a temporary Protection Order it means the court decided it was urgently needed to protect the person who applied.
If you have been told that someone has applied for a Protection Order against you, you’ll be told when to go to court to talk to the judge. The judge will decide whether to make the Protection Order or not.

Conditions you must follow
If you have been named in a Protection Order you must not contact the other person or have any weapons including firearms. If you have a firearms licence the police will suspend it.
If you have children they are usually covered by the Protection Order too.

If you break the conditions
Breaking the conditions of a Protection Order is a crime.
It is also a crime if you do not go to, or do not finish, a non-violence course if you have been ordered to. 

How long a Protection Order lasts
A temporary Protection Order lasts three months. You can go to court before the three months ends to defend yourself.
If you do not go to court, the Protection Order automatically becomes final and it will last until either you or the violent person apply to the court to end it. The court will not end a Protection Order unless it is satisfied the violent person is no longer a risk to the person protected by the Order.
If instead you have been given an Application for a Protection Order this means it does not apply yet and you can go to a hearing at court to defend yourself. If you do not go to court the judge could make a Protection Order without your presence, and this could also be final unless you or the person who applied ask the court to change it.

Defending yourself against a Protection Order
If you do not defend the Order, the judge could make an Order in court without you being present.

You will need to respond within a set time
If you want to respond to a temporary Protection Order you have to file your defence in court and make sure the other person gets a copy before the three months are up. 
If you want to respond to an application for a Protection Order, you usually need to file and serve your documents five working days before the hearing date.

Object to going to a non-violence course
If you have been told to go to a non-violence course but you don’t want to you have ten working days from when you are told to go to a non-violence course to say you don’t want to go.

Care of Children

Where parents cannot agree about the care arrangements for their child(ren) the Family Court can assist by making Parenting Orders which specify which parent (or other person) has the child(ren) in their care at certain times.

If you and your ex-partner have agreed on care arrangements for your children, you can make a parenting plan without involving the courts. You can also find advice about talking to and making decisions about your children during a break up.
If you want to, you can ask the court to make your parenting plan into a Consent Order. That means the parenting plan can be enforced by the court if one person isn’t sticking to the arrangements.

If you need help to reach agreement about how you will care for your children, there are mediation services available that don’t involve going to court. The Family Court can make decisions for you if these other attempts to agree are unsuccessful.

The Family Court can help with guardianship matters. This includes who can be a guardian and sorting out disputes between guardians.

The Family Court is involved with Care or Protection Orders. 

The child support scheme is managed by Inland Revenue. There are certain situations where the Family Court can help with child support, such as appealing or enforcing payments.

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

Get help from the courts if you believe your child could be taken out of New Zealand without your permission. This is called an Order Preventing Removal.

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.

Relationship Property

We understand that going through a separation or divorce could be one of the most challenging and stressful times in your life.

Epsilon Law can advise you on the best way to resolve your relationship property dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In most cases people need help to get the agreement stage and we can assist you at every stage of the process.

There are 3 ways to divide your relationship property:

  • You can agree between yourselves how to share your property and the court does not have to be involved. If you want to be able to enforce the agreement through the court, your agreement must be in writing and both of you must have had independent legal advice.
  • If you can’t agree or if you believe your arrangement is unfair or doesn’t work, the Family Court can identify the relationship property, review property valuations you provide and determine an agreed value and how it will be divided between you and your ex-partner. The court will put this in a Relationship Property Order.
  • If you are undertaking Family Dispute Resolution mediation to help you agree on how you’ll care for your children, you can talk about how you will divide relationship property, if it helps you agree on your plan for your children. Write down what you have agreed and make sure you both get independent legal advice.

The information in this section is mainly for people who can’t agree and are going through the Family Court.

If you want to, you can ask the court to make your parenting plan into a Consent Order. That means the parenting plan can be enforced by the court if one person isn’t sticking to the arrangements.

Relationships covered by law

The Family Court can make orders dividing relationship property when you’re married or in a civil union or in some cases a de facto relationship.

The Family Court can make Orders dividing relationship property when you’ve been married or in a civil union or de facto relationship.

Marriages and civil unions

Married people and civil union partners are covered from the date of their marriage or civil union.

Different rules apply for dividing up property, depending on whether you’ve been married or in a civil union for less than 3 years or more than 3 years.

If you were living as a de facto couple before your marriage or civil union, that time will be treated as if it were part of the marriage or civil union.

De facto relationships

In most cases, only people who have lived together in a de facto relationship for at least 3 years are covered unless there is a child involved or 1 partner has made a significant contribution to the relationship.

Defining a de facto relationship

The court will look at many things when deciding whether 2 people are in a de facto relationship, including:

  • how long the relationship lasted
  • the extent to which the couple share a home
  • whether they have a sexual relationship
  • their financial and property arrangements and how much they depend on each other
  • their ownership, use and purchase of property
  • how committed they‘ve both been to a shared life
  • their care and support of children
  • who does the housework and other household duties
  • if the partners are known to family and friends or other people as a couple.

What relationship property covers

Relationship property covers things of financial value that you gained during the relationship. It can include:

  • the family home and contents (but not taonga or heirlooms), other land or buildings and vehicles
  • salary or wages earned during the relationship, insurance payouts, superannuation you received, rents and other income from joint property
  • any property gained when you were in the relationship or had the relationship in mind and intended for both of you to use
  • non-personal debts (your personal debts are your own responsibility)
  • gifts or inheritances that have become mixed with relationship property
  • property you both agree is relationship property
  • increases in the value of relationship property, income from it or the proceeds from the sale of it.

If you need help to reach agreement about how you will care for your children, there are mediation services available that don’t involve going to court. The Family Court can make decisions for you if these other attempts to agree are unsuccessful.

The Family Court can help with guardianship matters. This includes who can be a guardian and sorting out disputes between guardians.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid is government funding to pay for legal help for people who cannot afford a lawyer. Legal aid (administered through the Ministry of Justice by the Legal Services Commissioner) is an important part of New Zealand’s justice system and governed by the Legal Services Act 2011 and the associated regulations. It helps people to resolve legal problems that may go to court and makes sure that people are not denied justice because they can’t afford a lawyer.

Legal aid is considered a loan.
You may have to repay some or all of your legal aid, depending on how much you earn, what property you own and whether you receive any money or property as a result of your case.
The information you give on your application form is used to work out whether you have to repay anything. You will be told the maximum amount you have to repay in the first letter you get from the grants officer after they assess your application. The letter from your grants officer will tell you if you need to start repayments now, and how to pay.
If you own a house, car or other valuable property, you may have to authorise a charge on the property as security for the debt. The charge means that if you sell the property, you must repay your debt out of the money you get from the sale. You may still be required to make regular payments, even if your debt is secured.

Epsilon Law is registered as Legal Aid provider and can assist you with Family Violence and Care of Children matters.

Legal aid may be available for family disputes or problems that could go to court, including:

  • disputes over relationship property, child support or maintenance, and care of children
  • protection orders
  • care and protection orders for children and young persons

we are part of the family. all the way through.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, conetur adiping elit Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.