About the Family Court

The Family Court deals with a wide range of relationships, from children who have not yet been born through to older people who are in need of care and protection.

On this page:

Introducing the Family Court

In the video below, Principal Family Court Judge Jacquelyn Moran explains how the Family Court works, what it looks like, who can attend, and what types of cases it deals with.

What the Family Court does

The Family Court hears cases on a broad range of topics. This includes, but is not limited to, care and protection of children, adoption and surrogacy, separation, relationship property, wills, family and sexual violence, child abduction, mental health, and child support. Wherever possible, the court aims to help people resolve their own problems by way of counselling, conciliation and mediation.

Although the Family Court is essentially a private forum – in that it deals with very sensitive matters – the Court is still a part of our justice system. Family Court decisions must be as open to the public as possible so that the Court can be accountable.

Find out more about: Judicial independence and accountability.

Filming, recording, or taking photographs in the Family Court

No filming or recording of any hearing may be made by members of the public, the media, lawyers, or litigants (parties) without the express permission of the presiding judge.

Guidance on the rules around taking notes, and the prohibition on covert recordings of court hearings, can be found in the following judgment:

S v Family Court at Manukau [2021] NZHC 259

For more information on in-court media coverage, see the page:

Filming, recording, or taking photographs in court

More information on the Ministry of Justice website 

The Family section of the Ministry of Justice website has a large amount of information related to Family Court matters, including family violence, relationship break up, care of children, relationship property, wills, sex or gender change, paternity, and adoption.

Family section on the Justice website