International Child Relocations – Which Lawyer Can Help?


Parenting Order Agreement LawyerSeparated parents looking to relocate internationally (move overseas) with children is becoming more and more frequent, and the question often becomes, if I live in “x” country and I want to move to “y” country, which country’s child custody laws apply?

The simple answer is that the laws of the country in which the children normally reside apply to your relocation.

Children currently living outside of New Zealand
If the children normally reside in Australia and you want to move to New Zealand, the laws relating to the care and welfare or custody of children in Australia apply, and you will need a lawyer in Australia to advise you as to the systems, processed and law in Australia. This applies even if you are originally a New Zealand citizen, and/or if your children are New Zealand citizens, and/or they have spent part of their lives living in New Zealand.

International Child Relocation JurisdictionThe only exception to this rule is if the children have recently been taken out of New Zealand without the permission of one of their Guardians. In which case you would need to apply for their return via the Hague Convention.

Children living in New Zealand
Similarly if the children currently reside in New Zealand and you wish to relocate to another country with the children, you will be subject to New Zealand laws regarding the care and welfare of children. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the child(ren)’s other Guardian(s), you will require a New Zealand-based lawyer to assist you with this process.

What does “normally reside” mean?
A good rule of thumb (but something that is not always the case, depending on the law of that particular country) is to ask where has the child been living the majority of the time for the last six months, where have they been enrolled in school or pre-school care for the majority of the last six months?

The below flow chart provides an easy to understand guide who can help with your international child relocation dispute.

International Child Relocation Disputes Flowchart


For assistance with relocating internationally with your children or any general issues regarding child custody, contact family lawyer, Ellen Harbidge by phone on 09 837 6890 or email

You may also find the following articles useful:

Preventing Your Child Being Removed From New Zealand
Child Relocation Disputes - What Happens When One Parent Wants To Move


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