Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Child abductions

What should you do if you think your child’s other parent is going to take your child overseas?

  • phone a lawyer urgently to discuss your options
  • if you don’t know who to see, phone the Family Court urgently
  • the Court can order that your child is not to be removed from New Zealand.

What should you do if your child has been taken overseas by the other parent, against your wishes?

If you find yourself in a situation involving the removal of your child without consent from New Zealand or retention of a child overseas, you are strongly advised to seek the assistance of a lawyer.

Under an international law agreement called the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction ("the Convention"), you may be able to ask the authorities of the country your child is in to return your child to New Zealand. It is possible that the person who took your child out of New Zealand could be prosecuted for doing this.

For the requirements that have to be met under the Convention to have a child returned, see the Ministry of Justice website.

If you want to ask for your child to be returned to New Zealand, you should contact a lawyer in New Zealand, or the Central Authority. They will complete the necessary forms. The forms are sent from the New Zealand Central Authority office to the Central Authority in the country where your child has been taken.

More comprehensive information is available on the Department of Internal Affairs website and the Ministry of Justice website or by contacting:

Central Authority
Hague Convention Advisor
Ministry of Justice
Private Box 180
Direct Phone: +64 4 494-9732
Fax: +64 4 918-8820
Contact person: Ms Trish Bailey

Passport Office
Department of Internal Affairs
PO Box 10526
Call Free (within New Zealand) 0800 22 50 50

Non-convention countries

If your child has been taken to a country which is not a party to the Hague Convention, you may still be able to apply for the child to be returned to New Zealand. However, different law will apply, and you may not be provided with financial assistance. You will need to talk to a specialist lawyer if you are in this situation.

What can a Consular Officer overseas do for you?

If your child has been taken overseas by the other parent against your wishes, the assistance our consular officers can provide to you is limited. Consular officers cannot intervene in the judicial processes in another country, but they can provide you with a list of lawyers.

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