The Family Court determines who has day-to-day care and contact by looking at certain principles. The first and paramount consideration the Courts will consider will be the welfare and best interests of the child. The Court will consider the following principles:
- The principle of child protection – This is the idea that the child’s safety should be protected at all times and he/she should be shielded from all forms of violence by his whanau, family group, iwi, hapu or other persons.
- The principle of the child expressing views and those views being taken account of (Section 6 of the Act).
- The principle of the child’s timeframe – This is the idea that decisions affecting the child should be made within a timeframe that is appropriate to the child’s sense of time. Delays, whether deliberately caused or otherwise, are considered detrimental to the child and can complicate the situation considerably.
- The principle of the particular emphasis of the child having a continuing relationship with both parents – this is not a guarantee of equal sharing of parenting but will be considered in the context of each child’s individual circumstances.
- The principle of continuity — there should be continuity in arrangements for the care of children and relationships with family and whanau should be stable and ongoing.
- The principle of preserving and strengthening family ties — this is the idea that relationships with the child’s wider family group, iwi, or hapu should be maintained and strengthened.
- The principle of identity — A child’s identity should be preserved and strengthened, including but not limited to his/her religion, culture and language.
- The principle that conduct is only to be taken account of if it is relevant to the child’s welfare
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