Hopkins v Stokes [2020] NZFC 8575

Published 24 February 2021

Application for order — consent to de facto relationship — 17-year-olds — welfare and best interests of child — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6 & 46A. The applicants applied to the Court for consent to be in a de facto relationship pursuant to s 46A of the Care of Children Act. They were both 17 years old and had a young child together. Under s 46A a person aged 16 or 17 could apply to a court for consent to be in a de facto relationship. A judge could grant consent if satisfied that the applicant has made the application voluntarily, free of undue influence or coercion; the applicant understands the consequences of the application and wants the Judge to consent to the de facto relationship; and the de facto relationship is in the applicant's interests. The Judge was satisfied that both applicants were in the relationship of their own free choice and were free of undue influence or coercion and that they knew the consequences of the application. They were living together and wanted to ensure that their benefit was being assessed correctly. In determining whether the relationship is in the best interests of the applicant(s), the matters to take into account were: the age and maturity of the applicant; the applicant’s views; any views of the applicant’s parents and guardians that can reasonably be ascertained; and any other information available to the court relevant to the application. The mothers of both applicants wholeheartedly supported the application, and both applicants were committed to each other and to their child. The Judge concluded that all criteria were satisfied, and made an order granting consent to the applicants' de facto relationship. Judgment Date: 1 October 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *