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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
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Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I am assisting a young couple whose marriage is rocky. They

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I am assisting a young couple whose marriage is rocky. They are currently living separately. The female (Y) is FT employed and the male (X) has responsibility for their young child through the week (he is not employed). Y has the child for weekends. There is a (final) parenting order which is about X having responsibility for the child during the week etc. They are thinking of reconciling and moving back in together: if they do, what implications are there for the PO?

christhelawyer : HiWelcome to JustAnswer. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear
christhelawyer : If they move back in together and resume the relationship full time, the parenting order will no longer mean anything. As the relationship continues, the order becomes meaningless, but if they separate in the future they would need to make a new arrangement.
christhelawyer : If the separate fairly quickly the order could be used, but as time progresses it means less.

I guess the crunch is what 'fairly quickly' means. In my view, they are likely to separate again and when that happens (that is Y will ask X to go), Y is likely to want to go for a PO which limits X's care time to say three days a week and the child is put into care for the other two. This has large financial implications for X as he would no longer be eligible for the DPB, so the question of what 'fairly quickly' means gets quite important. From your knowledge, can you give me a bit a of a ball-park for the 'fairly quickly'? Is it more like weeks or is 4-5 months still 'fairly quickly'? Also, what does the rellevant law say re this, or is it primarily a discretionary matter for the court?

christhelawyer : Perhaps the first thing I should say, is that parenting orders are not fixed in concrete when they are made. As the relationship changes, factors like the earning ability of parents, age of the children, schooling and other needs all do change. Specifically, a few weeks would likely mean the order would then fall back into place. But after say 6 months, then if the circumstances have changed, then a new order would be needed. The Family Court encourages mediation to resolve the terms of the parenting arrangements rather than court, so that should be the way to resolve this.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX helpful. I think there's just one more aspect to check. If they move in together, the PO becomes meaningless as far as their day to day living goes, but is it meaningless to the court itself? I can see that if there were a separation following the re-uniting then either or both X and Y may wish to initiate negotiation / mediation for a new PO .... but if the court were to find out / be told that they were back togther under the one roof, could / would / does the court initiate a process of 'voiding' the PO?

christhelawyer : The court would note what had happened before, and then consider what was needed under the current situation, rather than just re impose the previous order. However the court would not take any steps about the previous order and leave that to the parties to raise.


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