Family Law
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Guidance for managing shared parenting agreements during COVID-19 traffic light settings

Currently, all of New Zealand is in the Red traffic light setting. These traffic light settings fall under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (“Framework”) which aims to protect Aotearoa New Zealand from COVID-19.

Many families and whānau have shared parenting agreements and/or have ongoing proceedings within the Family Court. The courts are an essential service which remain open at each traffic light setting (Red, Orange and Green). However, to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Justice has developed court entry requirements which apply under each of the traffic light settings.

Entry to court under Framework protocols

From Tuesday, 1 February 2022, the following protocols will apply:

  • Every person entering the court will be asked to show their My Vaccine Pass. If this is not possible, evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test will be requested.
  • A person who has shown their My Vaccine Pass or has provided evidence of a recent negative test will be able to enter the court.
  • People who are required to attend court in person by way of a court summons, legislative requirement or judicial direction will be allowed to enter even if they do not show a My Vaccine Pass or provide evidence of a negative test. The Ministry of Justice will pay for COVID-19 tests for those who are required to attend court in person. However, their entry may be subject to special measures to manage health and safety risks.
  • A person relying on a recent negative COVID-19 test for entry (outside of those people who are required to attend court) will need to organise their own test at their own cost. There will be no testing facilities at court and tests for this purpose will need to be organised in advance.

Public health measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing are required, as well as scanning or signing in. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home and do not come to court. You should contact 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) at least five days prior to the commencement of the hearing if you cannot enter the court or are not sure whether to attend.

Wherever possible, court work will be done remotely in order to limit the number of people required to attend court in person.

Parenting arrangements
A parenting arrangement includes where a court order exists under the Care of Children Act 2004 which states who has the day-to-day care of a child and how contact to the other parent is to occur, and also when there is an informal agreement between parents or caregivers as to the care arrangements for a child. This includes where there is a whāngai arrangement and whānau are living in different homes but still provide day-to-day care of a child.
The following guidance does not apply to Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 access arrangements.

Parenting arrangements at Red, Orange and Green traffic light settings
You are able to continue with usual parenting arrangements including travel, either within one traffic light setting or across traffic light settings, for pick up and drop off arrangements. Public health advice should be followed if you or your child is feeling unwell.

There are currently no national borders in place and proof of vaccination status or COVID-19 testing is not required to cross different traffic light setting areas, or use buses and trains. However, the Cook Strait ferry transport providers and some domestic air transport services, such as Air New Zealand, may have vaccination or negative testing requirements. You should make sure to check in with any transport operators before your travel. Still, you must follow the guidance issued for the setting for the area that you travel to.

Further information
This article is intended to present general advice only. If you need any specific legal advice, the Family law team at Holland Beckett Law would be happy to provide advice during each of the traffic light settings.

For more general information, we suggest you visit:

Guidance for managing shared parenting during COVID-19 traffic light settings | New Zealand Ministry of Justice

The COVID Healthline is available for 24/7 advice and information in relation to COVID-19 on 0800 358 5453.

NZ Lockdown Level 4 Childcare Arrangements Shared Parenting | Hobec Law
Guidance for managing shared parenting during COVID-19 traffic light settings | New Zealand Ministry of Justice