Forms & notices for use by US parents who are about to divorce or who are receiving child support. Documents also include visitation and custody kits.
In legal disputes involving family matters your lawyer may suggest a mediation conference as a way of resolving the dispute without formal court proceedings. If formal proceedings are begun in the Family Court, the court will usually start by arranging free counselling for you, and if that doesn't work, the court will usually refer you to a mediation conference.
Mediation conferences are a way of allowing the parties to reach a decision about the dispute themselves, rather than having one imposed on them by the court. Successful mediation considerably reduces the legal costs to the parties, and also reduces the workload of the courts.
When an application has been made to the Family Court for a separation order or an order dealing with maintenance or day-to-day care of or contact with children, either party can ask the court Registrar to arrange a mediation conference. A Family Court judge can also ask for a mediation conference to be convened.
Yes. You can be summonsed to attend a mediation conference â€“ in other words, the judge can require you to attend.
The conference will be held at the Family Court and will be chaired by a Family Court judge. The judge will help the parties identify the issues that need to be resolved and then help them find agreement and practical solutions.
Mediation conferences are held in private. Any statements or admissions made at a conference are confidential and cannot be used against either party later in court.
The judge records in writing the matters on which the parties have agreed, and those on which it has not been possible to reach agreement. This record is filed in the court.
The parties' lawyers may be present at the conference to assist and advise them. However, it is generally considered desirable for the parties to speak for themselves at the conference rather than through their lawyers.
If day-to-day care of or contact with children is in issue, any lawyer appointed by the court to represent the child ("lawyer for the child") may also attend.
Support people and wider family members can attend if the judge allows this and no-one else objects. If they do attend the mediation conference, and it's a dispute about day-to-day care of or contact with children, they also have the right to be at any later Family Court hearing if mediation doesn't resolve the dispute.
If the parties reach agreement on a matter, the judge chairing the conference can make an order giving effect to the agreement. This is called a "consent order" and is enforceable in the same way as a court order. Consent orders can deal with:
If one of the parties does not have a lawyer or his or her lawyer is not present, a consent order can only be made if that party states expressly that he or she does not want the conference to be adjourned so that he or she can obtain legal advice.
The paternity of a child can be established in a number of different ways -
A man can state that he is the father of a child by signing a "Deed of Acknowledgement of Paternity". This must also be signed by the child's mother.
A man is legally presumed to be the father of a child if -
A man could therefore establish his paternity of a child in this way by providing a Court with a copy of the marriage certificate or dissolution order. He might want to do this if, for example, he is separated from the mother and is applying to the Family Court for a parenting order under the Care of Children Act 2004 to give him a role in caring for the child.
However, his status as husband creates only a legal presumption of paternity. A presumption will be decisive if there is no evidence to the contrary. The child's mother may be able to prove â€“ for example, by DNA tests â€“ that the man is not the child's father.
The man named as the father of a child on the child's birth certificate is presumed to be the father. Again, this is only a presumption, and it can be disproved in Court.
A man can be named as the father on the birth certificate in one of two ways -
The Family Court can be asked to resolve a dispute about paternity. A child's mother may ask the Court to make a "paternity order" under the FAMILY PROCEEDINGS ACT 1980 against a man who denies being the father. A man may also ask the Court to make a "declaration of paternity" under the STATUS OF CHILDREN ACT 1969 that he is a child's father, or, if he believes there has been a mistake, that he is not the father.
In certain cases other people can ask the Court to decide a question of paternity.
The High Court can also make declarations of paternity under the STATUS OF CHILDREN ACT 1969.
Applications forms for paternity orders (FP 15) and declarations of paternity (FP 15A) are available on the Family Court website at www.justice.govt.nz/family, under Legislation & legal resources / Forms.
If the Court has been asked to decide a question of paternity, it can recommend that "parentage tests" be carried out. Parentage tests might involve blood samples, or mouth scrapings from both the child and the man.
Both the mother and the man can ask the Court to recommend that parentage tests be carried out.
The man is not legally required to have parentage tests. He can refuse to give blood or other samples, and therefore his DNA will not be able to be tested. However, the Court is entitled to infer what it wishes from the man's refusal.
Applications for maintenance are made to the Family Court. The following types of maintenance are now available under the FAMILY PROCEEDINGS ACT 1980 -
The FAMILY PROCEEDINGS AMENDMENT ACT 2001 changed the law from 1 February 2002 to place de facto relationships, in part, on the same footing as legal marriages in relation to maintenance. In April 2005, civil unions were established as a legally recognised form of relationship, and civil union couples were brought under the maintenance provisions in the Family Proceedings Act (by the CIVIL UNION ACT 2004).
Note that child support is an altogether different matter from spousal maintenance and is governed by separate rules (see How to apply for child support). However, spousal maintenance is collected and enforced by the Inland Revenue Department, which also administers child support.
When a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship ends, the general rule is that any maintenance paid by one spouse or partner to the other should be temporary only. Maintenance will be payable if certain conditions are met, but each party must assume responsibility, within a reasonable period of time, for meeting his or her own needs, and after that time no maintenance will be payable.
In the case of a marriage or civil union, you can apply for spousal maintenance -
However, the criteria you must satisfy are different depending on whether or not the marriage or civil union has been dissolved (see below).
In the case of a de facto relationship, you can apply for maintenance if you and the other person have stopped living together, provided you have not married or entered into a civil union or begun a de facto relationship with someone else.
When you apply for an order, both you and the other party will need to complete a form setting out your income, assets and expenditure.
After your marriage or civil union is dissolved or your de facto relationship has ended, you are entitled to receive maintenance from the other party for your reasonable needs if you cannot practicably meet all or part of those needs because of any of the following three grounds:
For the purposes of maintenance after a marriage or civil union is dissolved, the dissolution order does not have to be from a New Zealand court. An overseas order may be accepted, provided it is recognised in New Zealand.
If your marriage or civil union has not been dissolved, you are entitled to receive maintenance from your spouse or partner if you can show that you have a reasonable need for it based on any of the following grounds â€“
In the case of a de facto relationship of less than three years, the court cannot award you maintenance unless it is satisfied â€“
In determining the amount of maintenance that should be paid, the court takes into account -
In deciding whether one party is liable to pay maintenance, and how much, the court may consider -
The court may order maintenance to be paid as periodical payments or as a lump sum. In general the court prefers periodical payments.
Lump-sum maintenance can be ordered to be paid as a single payment or in instalments.
As well as maintenance during a marriage or civil union and maintenance after a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship ends, there is a separate right to apply to the Family Court for maintenance from the other natural parent of a child. This is distinct from any entitlement to child support.
This right entitles a natural parent of a child to apply for maintenance against the other parent if -
The period for which the order lasts is a matter for the court to decide. Typically, an order will cease to have effect if the applicant ceases to have day-to-day care of the child.
Further, an order will cease if the applicant later marries or enters into a civil union or de facto relationship, unless the order has already expired.
The court can make a maintenance order against a natural parent if it is satisfied that -
If satisfied of those two matters, the court can order the respondent to pay, for a period that the court decides, either -
A parent will not be awarded maintenance based on that parent's own needs alone if he or she no longer has day-to-day care of the child.
The court can impose any conditions on the order as it sees fit.
The court may order interim maintenance when an application has been made for a maintenance order. This applies to maintenance during a marriage or civil union, to maintenance after the end of a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship, and to maintenance by a natural parent.
The court has a wide discretion in deciding whether or not to order interim maintenance and will base its decision on the particular facts of the case.
Interim maintenance can be paid only in periodical payments, not as a lump sum. Interim maintenance may continue for up to six months.
If you and the other party make a voluntary maintenance agreement between you, this is binding according to the standard law of contract, and is therefore legally enforceable. But the existence of such an agreement does not prevent you applying to the Family Court for maintenance.
If there are children, your voluntary agreement can also be accepted and administered by the Inland Revenue Department under the CHILD SUPPORT ACT 1991 as fulfilling the liability of the non-custodial parent to pay child support. Again, acceptance of the agreement by the IRD does not prevent you applying to the court for a maintenance order.
The Family and District Courts have a wide power to vary, discharge or suspend any existing maintenance order, and in doing so the court applies the same principles that govern the granting of an initial maintenance order.
If you both wish to vary a voluntary agreement that has been accepted by the IRD under the CHILD SUPPORT ACT 1991, you will need to get the IRD to agree to the variation.
If you are a solo parent receiving the domestic purposes benefit, the other party's obligations to pay maintenance are suspended. However, this does not prevent you applying for a maintenance order and you may receive an order that will become effective once your benefit ceases.
Child support is money paid by parents who are not living with their children to contribute to the support of those children.
Applications for child support are made to the Child Support Agency, which is part of the Inland Revenue Department. Child support is governed by the CHILD SUPPORT ACT 1991.
If you are the parent with day-to-day care of a child (the "eligible custodian") and you are a beneficiary, then you must apply for child support. Your application for child support is made automatically when you apply for a benefit.
If you're not a beneficiary, then there's no obligation to apply for child support. If you wish to apply, you should contact the Child Support Agency on freephone 0800 221 221. Applications are to be made to the Agency on an approved form and must be accompanied by the appropriate documents, including proof that the other party (the "liable parent") is in fact a parent of the child.
You can apply for child support if you an "eligible custodian" of a "qualifying child".
A "qualifying child" is a child who is:
You are an "eligible custodian" if -
The person who has the greatest responsibility for a child is the person who is the principal provider of ongoing daily care.
You can claim child support from a parent of the child (which includes a step-parent), provided the parent is:
A child will cease to qualify for child support when he or she turns 19, unless before then the child gets married or enters into a civil union or de facto relationship, or becomes financially independent.
Used when giving a former spouse notification that alimony payments have not been received. Sets out the number of payments outstanding and the total alimony due.
For use by a parent who is divorced and receiving support from the former spouse. This notice sets forth the number of past due payments, total amount due and that payment should be made immediately.
This Kit contains valuable information, questionnaires and worksheets to assist you in making difficult decisions regarding your children during a divorce proceeding.
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