Bhatia v Bhatia [2019] NZFC 6062

Published 27 April 2021

Relocation — alienation — welfare and best interests of child — mental health issues — post-partum depression — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6 & 46R — Kacem v Bashir [2010] NZSC 112; [2011] 2 NZLR 1; [2010] NZFLR 884. The applicant father sought to relocate to the South Island with the parties' child in order to take up a job opportunity. The mother opposed the move as her relationship with the child faced alienation and needed careful nurturing. The mother looked into relocating to the South Island as well but this was not a viable option. Section 4 of the Care of Children Act (the Act) states the paramount concern is the welfare and best interests of the child. It is also a requirement that the Court take into account the principles in s 5 which include safety, parental and guardian responsibility for care, consultation and co-operation, continuity of caregiving arrangements, continuing relationships with parents and the preservation and strengthening of extended family relationships and identity. Section 6 says that opportunities must be given to children to express their views and any views expressed must be taken into account. The father submitted he would pay for flights so the child could visit the mother every fourth weekend. This would be too little contact and eventually would wear down the child's resilience. It would also mean she could not play any team weekend sports. The child did not mind where she lived but wanted to remain in the day-to-day care of her father. The Judge determined it was in the welfare and best interests of the child to remain in the North Island where she could have regular and frequent contact with her mother. She was to remain in her father's day-to-day care. The application to relocate was declined and the child was to receive counselling as she had some anger issues. Judgment Date: 13 August 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *