Caring for children or having contact with children

If you are a parent, or have children in your family that you care for, or would like to care for or have contact with, then you may need to know what options are available to you.

Childcare disputes often arise when guardians disagree about the parenting arrangements following separation, or on important matters that affect the child.

Important matters that affect children may include:

  • where a child lives and goes to school,
  • what medical treatment they receive,
  • their culture and what language they speak,
  • or the religion that they practice.

There are a variety of ways in which childcare disputes can be resolved, whether that be by agreement, or applying to the Family Court for a Parenting or Guardianship Order.

Many people resolve childcare matters by agreement between themselves, or with the assistance of lawyers. The outcome would normally be a parenting agreement.

Sometimes outside assistance is needed to resolve a childcare dispute. One option may be attending Family Dispute Resolution. This is where a trained mediator, with a background in working with families, assists and guides guardians to work towards a resolution.

In some circumstances, the only available option may be applying to the Family Court for a Parenting or Guardianship Order. If a childcare dispute progresses through the Family Court and goes to a hearing, the Judge will make a Parenting or Guardianship Order that sets out the care or contact arrangements for the child.

When the Family Court considers a childcare dispute the most important factor will be what is in the welfare and best interests of the child. This means priority will be given to what is best for the child, rather that the child’s guardians. The Family Court may also appoint a lawyer for the child to ascertain the child’s views to help with decision-making.

We can assist you with resolving childcare and guardianship disputes whether they occur upon separation, or later.

Call us for a relaxed friendly chat on 04 4736 850 or email us at

Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.


Rainey Collins Lawyer Shaun Cousins
Shaun Cousins
Gianna Menzies