Hanson v Frank [2021] NZFC 279

Published 28 July 2021

Application for separation order — whether applicant "domiciled" in New Zealand — Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 4 & 21 — Agulian and Another v Cyganik [2006] EWCA Civ 129. The applicant sought a separation order from the Court pursuant to s 21 of the Family Proceedings Act ("the Act"). The parties had been married since 2012 and had two children together. The applicant, who was a New Zealand citizen, had lived overseas in various different countries for some 20 years. The respondent was an Australian citizen; the parties' two children had New Zealand citizenship, and all four family members lived overseas. The applicant alleged that the marriage started to fall apart in early 2019. Section 4 of the Act requires that any party to the proceedings must reside or be domiciled in New Zealand. At issue here was whether the applicant was 'domiciled' in New Zealand and whether the grounds for a separation order were made out. The Court considered the fact that the parties owned property in New Zealand but did not own any property overseas went towards showing domicile in New Zealand. Despite living abroad for 20 years it had always been the applicant's intention to move back to New Zealand at some point. She had also not taken any steps to seek citizenship in another country. To set aside a domicile of origin was a high threshold. The Judge determined that the applicant was domiciled in New Zealand, and that the grounds for a separation order were made out. The order was granted. Judgment Date: 13 January 2021. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *