New Zealand Law Society - Family violence legislation changes in effect on 1 July

Family violence legislation changes in effect on 1 July

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The second phase of changes to family violence legislation takes effect on 1 July 2019. These are contained in the Family Violence Act 2018 and the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018. Both come into force on 1 July.

Protection Orders

One of the major changes is to Protection Orders. From 1 July, all Protection Orders – including ones granted before then – will have extra standard conditions.

The changes are about:

  • contact between the person who’s been violent and the people they harmed, and
  • the types of behaviour the violent person must not do.

One key change is that if a protected person agrees to contact with the respondent, they must give consent in writing by email, letter, text, or other digital message (section 94).

Consent cannot override any special conditions restricting contact such as supervised contact for a child or other no-contact conditions. The protected person can withdraw consent at any time by any means.

From 1 July a breach of a Property Order will be treated as a breach of a Protection Order (section 112)

Types of abuse the person who's been violent must not do have been expanded to include (section 90):

  • hurting house pets or other animals of importance to the protected people;
  • harassing behaviours such as loitering near where the protected people live or work;
  • disrupting the care of protected people who need it because of their age, disability or health condition.

The legislation expands the definition of "family violence" to include coercion or controlling behaviour and dowry-related abuse (section 9).

Ministry of Justice information on the changes is available here.


The definition of a child is amended to a person under the age of 18 to align with the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and the term ‘minor’ is removed from the legislation (section 8)

A young person aged 16 or over may apply for a Protection Order without a representative (section 62). Protection Orders may be issued against a young person aged between 16 and 18 years in special circumstances (section 64). This is intended for young couples in particular.

All children of an applicant will be covered by a Protection Order, including those born after an Order is granted (section 86). Children not living with the applicant can be included on request (section 87).

Judges can impose protective conditions for handover arrangements to keep children safe, whenever family violence has occurred, including psychological violence (section 103).

Care of Children Act 2004

Amendments made by the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 to the Care of Children Act 2004 come into effect on 1 July.

Judges can make a temporary Protection Order when considering applications under CoCA if they have concerns about the safety of a child or an adult (section 57A).

Judges will be able to take more factors into account when considering the safety of a child under CoCA applications, including family violence offences (section 5A).

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