The Court of Appeal has recently overturned an order allowing two children to remain in New Zealand with their mother.

The mother brought the two children from France to New Zealand for a holiday to visit the mother’s family. When one of the children returned a positive COVID-19 test result, and could not travel back to France, the mother remained in New Zealand with the children indefinitely.

The father applied for the children to be returned to France under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Children Abduction. An order was granted requiring the return of the children, but that order was later overturned by the High Court. You can read more about that decision here.

After that decision was made, a French Court made an order for a shared care agreement in the event the mother returned with the children to France. The father then appealed to the New Zealand Court of Appeal to have the children returned to France.

The Court of Appeal decided that the children returning to France would not “give rise to a grave risk of an intolerable situation”. This is a requirement to prevent an order to return children to their original country.

The Court decided that the new orders from the French Court meant that there was no risk that the children would be separated from either parent for long periods of time. The Court also decided that it was likely the children would adapt to life in France quickly, given how quickly they had adapted to life in New Zealand.

The Court accepted that the move would be challenging for the family, but that those risks were outweighed by the children having two loving and supportive parents.

In this case, the risk that the mother would face mental health issues was also not grave enough to mean that her parenting would be impaired or affect the children negatively. The Court did not accept that the mother had left France because of domestic abuse issues as there was no evidence of the father abusing the children.

The Court overturned the High Court’s decision and ordered that the children be returned to France.

Parenting issues can be confusing and stressful. If you are unsure about your options as a parent, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Shaun Cousins and Hunter Flanagan-Connors 


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.