As explained, when a Protection Order is made, the order automatically covers tamariki who live with protected person. When this happens care or contact with tamariki becomes an important issue as contact with the violent party and their wider whānau is often stopped.
When a protection order is made, a District Court Judge or a Family Court Judge can also make an Interim Parenting Order (interim meaning temporary).
When making an interim parenting order, the judge may direct that the violent party (called respondent in Family Court proceedings) can only have supervised contact. Sometimes that is at an approved contact centre or by a person approved by the court. This often has an impact on wider whānau contact with tamariki.
The focus for the judge is on the welfare and best interests of tamariki. Part of tamariki welfare is ensuring that they are protected from all forms of violence. Where there has been family violence, contact is usually supervised, at least until the judge has had time to hear from everyone and assess any risks for tamariki in having unsupervised contact.
There are things that whānau can do to ensure safe contact with tamariki while they are waiting for a judge to carry out a risk assessment and make a decision regarding care and contact. Some options are:
Contact usually starts out very limited but if everyone agrees, it can be changed relatively easily by the judge.
In situations where there is no agreement, a hearing will have to be held and a judge will need to make a decision.Sometimes bail conditions need to be amended to allow agreed or Family Court ordered interim contact.