International Child Relocations – Which Lawyer Can Help?

29 March, 2017 | Smith and Partners

Separated parents looking to relocate internationally (move overseas) with children is becoming more and more frequent, and the question often becomes, if I live in “x” country and I want to move to “y” country, which country’s child custody laws apply?

The simple answer is that the laws of the country in which the children normally reside apply to your relocation.

Children currently living outside of New Zealand

If the children normally reside in Australia and you want to move to New Zealand, the laws relating to the care and welfare or custody of children in Australia apply, and you will need a lawyer in Australia to advise you as to the systems, processed and law in Australia. This applies even if you are originally a New Zealand citizen, and/or if your children are New Zealand citizens, and/or they have spent part of their lives living in New Zealand.

The only exception to this rule is if the children have recently been taken out of New Zealand without the permission of one of their Guardians. In which case you would need to apply for their return via the Hague Convention.

Children living in New Zealand

Similarly if the children currently reside in New Zealand and you wish to relocate to another country with the children, you will be subject to New Zealand laws regarding the care and welfare of children. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the child(ren)’s other Guardian(s), you will require a New Zealand-based lawyer to assist you with this process.

What does “normally reside” mean?

A good rule of thumb (but something that is not always the case, depending on the law of that particular country) is to ask where has the child been living the majority of the time for the last six months, where have they been enrolled in school or pre-school care for the majority of the last six months?

The flow chart below provides an easy to understand guide who can help with your international child relocation dispute.

For assistance with relocating internationally with your children or any general issues regarding child custody, contact our family law experts by phone on 09 836 0939 or email to set up an appointment.


Do you need assistance with relocating internationally with your children or preventing them relocating?

We can help – contact family law experts today to set up an appointment.

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