1. What is “day-to-day care”?

Day-to-day care is a new term which has replaced the term “custody”.  Day-to-day care includes care that is provided only for one or more specified days or parts of days.

2. Who Can Apply?

The father or mother of a child, a partner of a parent, or a guardian of a child, can automatically apply to the Family Court for day-to-day care.  A family or whanau member can also apply for day-to-day care if it obtains permission from the Family Court.

Other people can also apply for day-to-day care with the Court’s permission.

3. Can We Agree?

Many parents after separation negotiate their own arrangements for the care of their children.

These care arrangements are sometimes simply informal agreements between the parents or can be written up as a parenting plan, usually with the help of a lawyer.  You do not need to go to the Family Court for a parenting order if you are happy to have an informal or written agreement with your ex partner.

You can make use of the free counselling service provided by the Family Court to help you negotiate your own informal arrangement without making a formal application to the Court or seeing your lawyer.  All you need to do is go to your local Family Court and fill out a request for Family Court counselling.

4. What happens in the Family Court?

If you do decide to make an application to the Family Court for day-to-day care there are three steps to the usual process:

(a) Counselling

In most situations, your application will automatically be referred to specialist Family Court counselling to try and help you and your ex partner come to your own agreement about care arrangements for your children.

(b) Mediation

If counselling is not successful the Court will give you a date for a mediation conference, usually in front of a Family Court Judge or sometimes a Senior Family Lawyer.  The mediation conference is another chance for you and your ex partner to try and agree to the best arrangements for your children.  If you come to an agreement at the mediation conference you can ask the Court to make formal Court orders.  At this stage the Court cannot impose any decisions on you.

(c) A Court Hearing

As a last resort you can have a full Court hearing and ask the Court to decide what the care arrangements should be for your children.  By this stage in the process a lawyer will have been appointed to represent your children, and the Court may have asked for a report from an appropriately qualified child psychologist or a social worker to help the Court make a decision that is in the child’s best interests and welfare.

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.