What can I do if my Ex-Partner has Applied for a Parenting Order?
If you disagree with the care arrangements that the other person has applied for, you can file a response with the Family Court. You should complete the “Notice of Response” form, and also an affidavit (a sworn statement) to provide detailed evidence in support of what you want to happen. You can download a copy of these documents from the Family Court website (www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice).
In your affidavit you'll state:
- what you agree with in the other person's application (if anything) and what you disagree with
- details and reasons for the care arrangements that you want
- what impact your proposed arrangements would have on the children
- why you think those arrangements are best for them.
You'll need to swear or affirm that your affidavit is true and correct. This must be done in front of a Registrar or Deputy Registrar at the Family Court, or a Justice of the Peace, or a lawyer (but not your own lawyer).
You must give a copy of your Notice of Response and affidavit to the other person. You must use the “Address for service” that they've given in the Information Sheet that was included in their application.
You have 21 days to file your Notice of Response and affidavit with the court and serve it on the other person.
Can I get Legal Help if I'm Responding to an Application for a Parenting Order?
In a non-urgent parenting order case you usually can't have a lawyer to represent you and appear with you in the Family Court in the initial stages of your case, and accordingly legal aid for a lawyer isn't available for those stages. However, you're allowed to get background help from a lawyer in the initial stages, including help with completing your Notice of Response and affidavit; for this background legal help you can hire your own lawyer, or you can use the free Family Legal Advice Service if your income is below a certain limit.
Once the judge has directed that your case will go to a final court hearing you're allowed to have a lawyer to represent you and appear with you in court, and legal aid is available for this if you qualify for it.
What is a Cost Contribution Order?
If in your case either Lawyer for Child is appointed or Specialist reports are obtained you will be ordered to contribute to the costs of these reports.
You can make a claim for an exemption on the grounds of financial hardship using the Ministry of Justice forms.