Short v Griffin [2020] NZFC 8869

Published 23 March 2021

Application for removal of guardian — criminal offending — unwilling to perform or exercise duties — unfit to be guardian — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6, 29 & 46R — IMB v BMA (2007) 26 FRNZ 484 — BLB v RSC [2012] NZFC 7162 — NMC v GWJC [2012] NZFLR 138 (FC) — G v L [2015] NZFC 5281 — Gwencarrow v Lean [2015] NZFC 5281. This was an application by the mother of two children to have the father removed as guardian of those children pursuant to s 29 of the Care of Children Act ("the Act"). The parties had been separated for several years, and there was a supervised contact arrangement in place for the father which he had not used in eight years. Counsel for the mother submitted that the father was for some grave reason unfit to be guardian of the children. The father had been convicted of sexual offending against a child in his care, and was currently serving a prison sentence of over 15 years with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years. Removing guardianship of a parent in cases where that parent had been convicted of sexual offending against children was support by case law. The Judge also had to take into consideration the principles in ss 4, 5 and 6 of the Act, and concluded that making an order would be in the children's welfare and best interests. The Judge made an order removing the father as a guardian of the children, but declined to vary or remove the existing parenting order as it would be in contravention of s 5(f), and there was no practical reason to remove it. Judgment Date: 15 October 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *