Trans-Tasman Family Law Disputes

In 2008, the New Zealand and Australian Governments entered into an agreement aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two jurisdictions in civil court proceedings and to enable Trans‑Tasman disputes to be resolved more effectively and at a lower cost to businesses and individuals.

In 2010, the New Zealand and Australian Parliaments passed companion legislation know as the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 in each jurisdiction (the Trans-Tasman legislation).

Although the legislation is not identical, it is aimed at streamlining the approach to be taken in resolving disputes where parties are located in both Australia and New Zealand.

The Trans-Tasman legislation has application in respect of a range of family law issues except for those relating to the enforcement of spousal maintenance or child support obligations or the dissolution of marriage.

It is particularly important to seek advice at an early stage where a case involves parties, children or property in both Australia and New Zealand as there can be quite distinct differences in outcomes depending on which jurisdiction your matter is resolved in.

If a party has already commenced family law proceedings it is critical to seek advice as to whether the Trans-Tasman legislation applies to your particular situation, as there are strict time limits that apply should proceedings already be on foot, and you wish to seek a change of jurisdiction.

This is where our Principal, Vanessa Leishman’s expertise is key. Vanessa can quickly identify the issues involved and provide specific advice tailored to your particular situation including on the following matters:

  • A comparison of potential outcomes in each jurisdiction
  • Which jurisdiction is the more appropriate forum to resolve the dispute
  • The most appropriate steps to take if it is necessary to commence court proceedings
  • How to respond to a court proceeding that has already commenced where jurisdiction is disputed
  • Applicable timeframes where jurisdiction is disputed
  • The service of proceedings and subpoenas in a Trans-Tasman proceeding
  • Remote appearances and the giving of evidence remotely
  • Enforcement of judgments

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call +64 9 363 2767 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.