Esperanza Cardona v Valerio Valdez  NZFC 2268
Published 31 July 2016
International custody dispute — relocation — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, — Kacem v Bashir  NZSC 112. An order was made for siblings, aged 9 and 12, to relocate from New Zealand where they had been living with their mother and step-family, to the United States to live with their father and paternal step-family.
The father, a diplomat, was re-posted at the end of 2014. Since then contact with the children had predominantly been through Skype.
Section 4 provides that a child’s welfare and best interests are paramount. In determining what was in each child’s welfare and best interests, s 5 principles were considered. Kacem stated that s 5 principles are particularly important in international relocation cases.
The older child had a strong desire to relocate to be with his father but did not want to be apart from his sister. It was in the children’s best interests that they relocate together. While the Judge appreciated the transition may be more difficult for the younger child, evidence of the step-mother’s understanding of the situation and its effects on the children persuaded the Judge that the children would have sufficient support with the difficulties of transition. Direct and indirect contact arrangements with the mother were finalised. **Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements.