What the law says

Laws that look after you and your children

A raft of laws protects the rights of New Zealand citizens.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, here is the legislation relevant to you:

Domestic Violence Act 1995

This Act says violence can be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological. The legal definition of domestic violence is: violence against that person by any other person with whom that person is, or has been, in a domestic relationship.

The Act defines a domestic relationship as: The relationship with another person if the person is a spouse or partner of the other person; or is a family member of the other person; or ordinarily shares a household with the other person; or has a close personal relationship with the other person.

It protects married couples; unmarried couples; gay and lesbian couples; children; family; anyone in a close relationship; and flatmates and others who may share accommodation. It also sets out information related to Protection Orders.

Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007

This amendment to the original Act makes better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment, free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purposes of correction (Section 4).

It states that it is illegal to use force on a child for the purpose of correction. It sets out circumstances where force may be used; for example, preventing the child from engaging in a conduct that amounts to criminal offence, but this 2007 law change makes it clear that there is zero tolerance to violence in a domestic setting.

Care of Children Act 2004

This Act deals with the guardianship of children, arrangements for the care of children, and resolving disputes as to children’s care. It came into force on 1 July 2005. The Act makes the welfare of the child the most important priority, and shifts the focus away from parents' rights towards parents' responsibilities towards their children.

It emphasises that children should be consulted about decisions that affect them, and that decisions affecting a child should be made and carried out within a timeframe that fits with the child's sense of time.