Barnett v Cline [2020] NZFC 7624

Published 16 February 2021

Relocation — welfare and best interests of child — identity — wider family relationships — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 46G & 46R — Bashir v Kacem [2010] NZCA 96, [2010] NZFLR 865. This was an application by the father for permission to relocate the parties' young child from New Zealand to his home country of the United States. The parties, both foreign nationals, had met in the US and moved to the respondent's home country of the Netherlands, where their daughter was born. Subsequently they had all moved to New Zealand and the parties' relationship broke down. The respondent mother had re-partnered with a new baby on the way. In determining an application for relocation under the Care of Children Act ("the Act"), a court had to take into consideration the principles relating to the welfare and best interests of the child pursuant to s 5 of the Act, which included: the child being safe in the care of either parent; the child’s care, development, and upbringing being the responsibility of both parents, which should be facilitated by ongoing consultation between the parents; having continuity in care; and the child's identity being fostered and preserved. No consideration should be given more weight than any other, apart from the child's safety which was not relevant in this instance. The Judge considered that the relevant factors were finely balanced except for the identity and wider family relationships issues, which fell on the side of favouring relocation to the US as the child's extended paternal family lived there too. The Judge directed that the child be permitted to relocate to the US, and set down a teleconference for a later date so that the parties could reach an agreement as to the implementation of the decision. Judgment Date: 4 September 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *