This regulatory area governs family law in Aotearoa New Zealand. It provides the framework for adult relationships (including relationship property), parent-child relationships, and for resolving disputes when relationships end.

This area includes the following systems:

Adult relationships

The adult relationships system is primarily about the regulation of people’s personal relationships, for example marriage or civil union, and ownership of property. One of the system’s objectives is to ensure fairness in the division of property as this is often the focus following the end of a relationship or the death of one party. It also protects the interests of vulnerable adults who are unable to fully manage their own care and property matters.

The remedies provided in this system are for the distribution or control of property and assets under direction of the courts.

Parent–child relationships

The parent-child regulatory system defines and regulates relationships between children and their parents or guardians. This system:

  • confirms the status of children and parents (regardless of the parents’ relationship or the manner of conception)
  • defines and regulates the powers, rights and responsibilities of parents and/or guardians
  • promotes the best interests and welfare of the child, and ensures that appropriate arrangements are in place for their care
  • implements under New Zealand law the Hague Conventions relating to inter-country adoptions and international child abduction
  • regulates the process for domestic and inter-country adoptions
  • provides a process through which adopted people and birth parents can obtain, or restrict, access to certain information.

In 2018, the Minister of Justice appointed an Independent Panel to review the 2014 reforms to the family justice system. Information on the review can be found at: 

Family Court rewrite