Useful family legislation

This page lists legislation that is commonly applied in the District Court’s Family jurisdiction, in alphabetical order. This list is intended as a guide only – not an exhaustive list.

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Adoption Act 1955
An Act to consolidate and regulate the law relating to the adoption of children in New Zealand.

Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997
The purpose of this Act is to implement in the law of New Zealand the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, provide for the approval of organisations as accredited bodies to whom functions may be delegated under the Convention, and make other provision for intercountry adoption and other matters related to adoption.

Adult Adoption Information Act 1985
The purpose of this Act is to provide for greater access to information relating to adoptions and to the parties to adoptions by adult adopted persons and their birth parents, and for other related matters

Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995
The purpose of this Act is to require the recording and verification of information relating to births, deaths, marriages, civil unions, name changes, adoptions, and sexual assignments and reassignments and regulate access to the recorded information pertaining to these matters.

Care of Children Act 2004
The purpose of this Act is to promote the welfare and best interests of children. It defines and regulates the duties and responsibilities of parents to their children and the court's power in relation to the care of children. It encourages agreement on care arrangements and provides for the resolution of disputes. It also implements the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction into New Zealand law, allowing for the enforcement of orders internationally.

Child Support Act 1991
This Act affirms the right of children to be maintained by their parents and the obligation of parents to maintain their children and the rights of caregivers to receive financial support. It outlines the way in which child support payments are calculated.

Children's Act 2014
The purpose of this Act is to:
 - require the Government to adopt, publish, and review a strategy for improving the well-being of children
 - ensure that children’s agencies work together to improve the well-being of particular groups of children
 - require child protection policies to be adopted and reported on by prescribed State services and DHBs boards, school boards, and certain people with whom those services or boards enter into contracts or funding arrangements
 - reduce the risk of harm to children by requiring people employed or engaged in work that involves regular or overnight contact with children to be safety checked

Civil Union Act 2004
This Act defines and regulates the law around civil unions.

District Court Act 2016
The purposes of this Act are to:
 - reconstitute District Courts as a single court with divisions for a Family Court, a Youth Court, and a Disputes Tribunal
 - provide for the constitution and jurisdiction of the court, the practice and procedure of the court, and the selection, appointment, removal, and conditions of the judicial and other officers of the court
 - to make provision for any other related matters, and
 - to improve the transparency of court arrangements in a manner consistent with judicial independence.

District Court Rules 2014
The objective of these rules is to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of any proceeding or interlocutory application.

Domestic Actions Act 1975
This Act abolishes certain causes of action in relation to marriage, such as the right to claim damages for adultery or breach of a promise to marry. It also clarifies property disputes arising out of an agreement to marry.

Domicile Act 1976
The purpose of this Act is to abolish the dependent domicile of married women and otherwise to reform the law relating to domicile.

Electronic Courts and Tribunals Act 2016
The purpose of this Act is to:
 - facilitate the use of permitted documents in, or with respect to, the proceedings of courts and tribunals; and
 - allow references to documents in existing enactments relating to the processes of courts and tribunals to be interpreted as including permitted documents; and
 - permit the filing of permitted documents at any specified place.

Evidence Act 2006
The purpose of this Act is to help secure the just determination of proceedings by providing for facts to be established by the application of logical rules, providing rules of evidence that recognise the importance of the rights affirmed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, promoting fairness to parties and witnesses, protecting rights of confidentiality and other important public interests, avoiding unjustifiable expense and delay, and enhancing access to the law of evidence.

Family Court Act 1980
The purpose of this Act is to establish a Family Court as a division of the District Court and provide for the constitution, jurisdiction, powers, and procedures of the Family Court.

Family Court (Supporting Children in Court) Legislation Act 2021
This Act aims to assist in enhancing child well-being in care-of-children proceedings, both directly and by assisting parents to resolve parenting disputes. It does this by amending the Care of Children Act 2004 and the Family Dispute Resolution Act 2013. Amendments focus on providing children reasonable opportunities to participate in decisions affecting them, and building on supports for children such as lawyer for child.

Family Court Rules 2002
The purpose of these rules is to promote the fair, inexpensive, simple, and speedy resolution of proceedings in the Family Court, in harmony with the purpose and spirit of the family law Acts under which the proceedings arise.

Family Proceedings Act 1980
This Act revises the law relating to matrimonial and domestic proceedings. It defines and regulates the law around the status of marriages and civil unions, separation, and welfare of children and maintenance upon separation.

Family Protection Act 1955
An Act to consolidate and amend certain enactments of the Parliament of New Zealand relating to claims for maintenance and support out of the estates of deceased persons.

Family Violence Act 2018
The purpose of this Act is to stop and prevent family violence recognising that family violence, in all its forms, is unacceptable and stopping and preventing perpetrators from inflicting family violence and keeping victims, including children, safe from family violence.

Health Act 1956
For Public Health Orders

Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003
The purposes of this Act are to:
- provide courts with appropriate compulsory care and rehabilitation options for persons who have an intellectual disability and who are charged with, or convicted of, an offence
- recognise and safeguard the special rights of individuals subject to this Act, and
- to provide for the appropriate use of different levels of care for individuals who, while no longer subject to the criminal justice system, remain subject to this Act.

Joint Family Homes Act 1964 
The purpose of this Act is to provide for joint family homes, and for an exemption from gift duty in respect thereof.

Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949
This Act provides for the enforcement of testamentary promises made in exchange for services rendered.

Legislation Act 2019
The purpose of this Act is to promote high-quality legislation for New Zealand that is easy to find, use, and understand.

Marriage Act 1955
This Act consolidates the law relating to marriage, outlining the preliminary formalities, solemnisation, and registration.

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992
This Act defines the circumstances in which and the conditions under which persons may be subjected to compulsory psychiatric assessment and treatment, to define the rights of such persons and to provide better protection for those rights, and generally to reform and consolidate the law relating to the assessment and treatment of persons suffering from mental disorder.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
This Act promotes the wellbeing of children, young persons and their families by establishing, promoting and coordinating services, assisting families and whānau, and protecting them from harm. It also gives practical commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (te Tiriti o Waitangi) by recognising mana tamaiti (tamariki), whakapapa, and the practice of whanaungatanga and maintaining and strengthening the relationship between children and young persons and their family, whānau, hapū, iwi, and family group and siblings.

Property (Relationships) Act 1976
This Act reforms the law relating to the property of married couples and civil union couples and couples living together in a de facto relationship and recognises the equal contribution of both spouses or partners, and provides for a just division of the relationship property between the spouses or partners when their relationship ends by separation or death, and in certain other circumstances, while taking account of the interests of any children of the marriage or children of the civil union or children of the de facto relationship.

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988
The purpose of this Act is to provide for the protection and promotion of the personal and property rights of persons who are not fully able to manage their own affairs.

Sentencing Act 2002
The purposes of this Act are to:
 - set out the purposes for which offenders may be sentenced or otherwise dealt with
 - promote those purposes, and aid in the public’s understanding of sentencing practices, by providing principles and guidelines to be applied by courts in sentencing or otherwise dealing with offenders
 - provide a sufficient range of sentences and other means of dealing with offenders, and
 - provide for the interests of victims of crime.

Social Security Act 1964
The purpose of this Act is to consolidate and amend the Social Security Act 1938 and its amendments.

Status of Children Act 1969
The purpose of sections 3 and 4 of this Act is to remove the legal disabilities of children born out of wedlock.

Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017
This Act makes provision for those suffering a serious substance addiction to receive compulsory treatment where their capacity to make decisions for treatment is severely impaired.

Trusts Act 2019
The purpose of this Act is to restate and reform New Zealand trust law by setting out the core principles of the law relating to express trusts, providing for default administrative rules for express trusts, providing for mechanisms to resolve trust-related disputes, and making the law of trusts more accessible.

Wills Act 2007
This Act outlines the law relating to wills.