Care or Protection Order application process

Applications for Care or Protection Orders are made by Oranga Tamariki or New Zealand Police.

On this page:

Care or Protection Order process - without notice

  1. Oranga Tamariki or Police can apply for a Care or Protection order.
  2. If the application is urgent, the Family Court makes an interim Order and the child is placed in the care of Oranga Tamariki.
  3. The Family Court appoints a lawyer for the child.
  4. The parent, guardian or caregiver is told about the application and court hearing (and family group conference if it didn't happen before the agency made the application).
  5. The parent, guardian or caregiver files and serves response papers within seven days, if they want to respond.
  6. A family group conference is held if needed. The coordinator writes down all decisions, recommendations and plans agreed at the conference and gives this information to Family Court.
  7. The Family Court decides whether to make a Care or Protection Order at the hearing.
  8. If the court makes an Order, a social worker files a report and plan with the  Family Court to review the child’s situation every 6 or 12 months.

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After the government agency gives its application to the Family Court

If you’re the child’s parent, guardian or caregiver:

  • you’ll get a copy of the application for the Care or Protection Order (and a copy of the interim Order if the child has been placed in the care of Oranga Tamariki)
  • you’ll be told when the Family Court is going to deal with the matter.

Find out more about how you can respond to the application

The Family Court will choose a lawyer for the child and let you know who that lawyer is. If appropriate, the child's lawyer will give them a copy of the Care or Protection Order application.

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Family group conference

A family group conference is usually held before a social worker or the Police apply to the Family Court for a Care or Protection Order. If this didn’t happen, a family group conference will need to be held before the Family Court decides if it will make a Care or Protection Order.

A family group conference is a formal meeting between the child’s parents, guardians or caregivers, extanded family or whānau, any agencies or people involved and the lawyer for the child. Everyone talks about the concerns for the child and tries to find a solution everyone can agree on.

The care and protection coordinator of the family group conference must write down any decisions, recommendations and plans people make at the conference. This information will be part of a plan that goes to the Family Court judge. (At court, no one can discuss matters people discussed at the family group conference, except for the plan.)

Find out more about family group conferences on the Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children website(external link) 

Legal advice

Responding to an application is a serious matter. You may find it helpful to get advice from a lawyer.

If you can’t afford a lawyer, you may be able to get legal aid or free community legal help.

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