Child welfare issues

New Zealanders that live in Australia and have children (either in Australia or New Zealand) can find information here about child custody, protection orders and support payments.

On this page

Child custody

Get permission to return with children to NZ

Many New Zealanders enter relationships with Australians and have children. If the relationship breaks down and the New Zealand parent wants to return home with their children, they must:

  • get written permission from the other parent or guardian
  • seek legal advice before removing the children from Australia.

If the other parent or guardian does not give permission, it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible, and seek relocation orders through the Australian Family Court.

The New Zealand High Commission Canberra and consulates in Australia can provide a list of legal contacts if required, but cannot help financially.

Follow procedure

Any parent or guardian who removes children from Australia without following the correct procedure can be forced by authorities to return the children to Australia under the international law agreement called the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. They can also be prosecuted for removing the children without the proper court orders in place.

Find more information on the Australian Government website(external link).

Child protection orders

Since November 1991, New Zealand and Australian authorities have worked together to help children who are the subject of protection orders, whether they are living in New Zealand or Australia, under a protocol for the Transfer of Child Protection Orders and Proceedings and Assistance.

For more information contact the local state government agency responsible for child welfare.

Child support payments

Since 1 July 2000, New Zealand and Australian authorities have worked together to make sure New Zealand parents living in Australia continue to pay the child support they owe. This happens under a reciprocal agreement between the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The authorities in the country where the child lives will assess the child support owing by the parents. If the parent is a New Zealander who lives in Australia, the Australian Taxation Office will take into account their income in Australia when assessing the amount of child support they owe. The ATO will also collect payment from that parent.

For more information contact Child Support Agency Australia(external link) or the New Zealand Government Child Youth and Family Services(external link).


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