The law that deals with how arrangements are made for children is the Care of Children Act.  This law sets out how Parenting Agreements and Parenting Orders are made, and also what should be included in these documents.

Paramount consideration in the Care of Children Act 2004:

This Act requires that a child’s “welfare and best interests” be the first and paramount consideration when any decisions are made about a child’s day-to-day care, contact or guardianship.  That means the priority in each case is to make decisions that are best for the child, rather than the parents, caregivers or guardians. 

What does “welfare and best interests” mean?

In section 5 of the Act there are several principles set out, which are related to assessing a child's welfare and best interests.

The principles relating to a child’s welfare and best interests are:

  • A child must be protected from all forms of violence from all persons, including members of the child’s family, family group, whānau, hapū, and iwi.
  • A child’s care, development, and upbringing should be primarily the responsibility of his or her parents and guardians.
  • A child’s care, development, and upbringing (i.e. guardianship decisions) should be made by ongoing consultation and co-operation between the child’s parents, guardians, and any other person having a role in his or her care under a parenting or Guardianship Order.
  • A child should have continuity in his or her care, development, and upbringing.
  • A child should continue to have a relationship with both of his or her parents, and that a child’s relationship with his or her family group, whānau, hapū, or iwi should be preserved and strengthened.
  • A child’s identity (including, without limitation, his or her culture, language, and religious denomination and practice) should be preserved and strengthened.

To read more about the difference between a Parenting Agreement and a Parenting Order, click here.

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