Henderson v Henderson [2019] NZFC 9936

Published 01 July 2020

Relocation — child abduction — Gloriavale — cultural and religious considerations — physical abuse — psychological abuse — isolation — welfare and best interests of children — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6, 132 & 133. This hearing was to determine where two of the parties' children were to live. In September 2019 the Court had ordered that the parties' eldest child was to live with the mother in Australia. The parties' youngest child lived with the mother too. She had been left in the care of her mother when the father abducted the eldest three children and took them to New Zealand. He moved the children into the Gloriavale community without consulting the mother and from abduction up to hearing the children all suffered isolation, physical abuse (sometime with a weapon) and high level psychological abuse. There was also evidence that the father's abuse was both for discipline and to force out, or ward against, ungodly behaviour. The father cut the children off from their mother and extended family on both sides. The primary consideration was the welfare and best interests of the children. The Judge was satisfied by a wide margin that placing the two children with their mother and siblings in Australia was the option that would best promote their welfare and best interests. The mother was able and willing to support the children's relationship with their father, whereas the father tried to completely cut the children off from their mother. She would be able to kindle their heritage and culture and introduce them to tikanga and their iwi, in comparison their father had cut them off from this. Further, there was no good reason for the children to be separated from each other. The father was to have phone contact each week, Skype contact each month and supervised contact. However, the father said if he did not get day-to-day care of the two children at this hearing he would not have physical contact with any of the children. Judgment Date: 29 November 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *