Halle Michaud v Grier Michaud [2016] NZFC 2488

Published 31 July 2016

Variation of final parenting order — dispute between guardians — discharge of order preventing removal — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6, 46R, 77. Orders were made with the aim of reducing the harm to a child by ongoing disputes between whānau. No novel or unusual legal principles were argued, allowing ss 4, 5 and 6 to guide the determination of the proceedings in the welfare and best interests of the child. There were major psychological safety concerns for the child under s 5(a) resulting from the “chronically troubled whānau relationships”, and the orders made were to protect the child from that harm while allowing him to continue to thrive in the permanent care of his uncle. There were no risks identified with the child being in the permanent care of the uncle, although some aspects of wider whānau involvement were described as “corrosive stuff indeed.” Accordingly, a final parenting order was varied to provide for contact with the parents and other relatives on four occasions per year at a specified supervised contact centre. Shortcomings related to ss 5(c), (e) and (f) from the orders made were justified on the facts. Disputed guardianship matters were clarified under s 46R of the Act, and an order preventing the child’s removal from New Zealand was discharged allowing the uncle to go on holidays with the child. **Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements.