The touchstone of the Care of Children Act 2004 is, in any case where the Act is used to determine a question of a child’s day to day care or contact, or a guardianship issue, that the “best interests and welfare” of the child is “paramount”.

The Act outlines guiding principles to be considered when ultimately deciding what is in the child’s best interests and welfare.

Included in the guiding principles is the child’s need to have relationships with their parents, and for a child's relationship with his or her family group, whānau, hapū, or iwi, to be preserved and strengthened. The child’s cultural identity also is to be preserved and strengthened.

Despite the need to consider the above factors, in a recently-decided case the Court ordered that a birth mother, seeking contact with her seven year old son, was not to have her application progressed any further.

The facts were; the boy had been adopted as a baby by his paternal grandparents, and he continued to believe they were his biological parents. His birth mother had had no contact with her son since the adoption. She had lived “an unstructured lifestyle” and the Court was of the opinion, on the evidence, her interest in her son could be fleeting.

Despite the need for a child to understand their identity and have access to their parents, the Court decided it was in the child’s best interests, at this point, not to have any contact with his birth mother, who was essentially a “stranger to the child, legally and factually”.

The Court decided the introduction of the child’s birth mother, and the information that could come from that, gave rise to a real risk of the child suffering an emotional disturbance, particularly given the assessment that the mother may not be able to sustain that contact.

Rainey Collins have a dedicated family law team who are able to assist with all areas of family law, including; day to day care and contact, adoption, guardianship, relocation, relationship property, enduring powers of attorney and wills and trusts.

For assistance contact Rainey Collins on 04 4736850.

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.