Names, relationships, finances, wills and passports
Updated: 21 July 2014
On this page you'll find information on when a name change is sought for a child or young person, when a young person in the chief executive's custody wishes to marry, as well as managing children's finances, wills and passports.
Change of name
Deciding on the name of a child is a special responsibility and as such is a guardianship issue. Our names are generally given to us by our parents at birth and, unless changed when we marry, most of us keep our birth name for life. Having said that, for a variety of reasons names are sometimes changed over the course of our lives and this can happen either formally or informally.
Informally this can occur when we habitually use a different name (perhaps choose to call themselves by their middle name or choose a name that they prefer to be known us). This is not a change to the person's legal or registered name.
Informal changes to a child or young person's first or last name are the prerogative of their guardian or the child or young person. It is not okay for these to occur at the instigation of the child or young person's caregiver or their social worker.
A formal change of name is a change in the legally registered name of the child or young person. There are a range of different procedures depending on the age of the child or young person and whether or not there is agreement between the guardians.
The name change needs to be justified as being in the best interests of the child or young person. Legal advice should be sought if a change of name is being considered.
Marriage when the chief executive is a guardian
Anyone 16 years and older can marry or enter into a civil union. If the person is under the age of 18 years they require the written consent of their parents, guardians or person having their care (Marriage Act 1955, s18). A person under the age of 16 years cannot marry, regardless of whether their parent or guardian would consent.
When a young person in the guardianship of the chief executive wishes to marry or enter a civil union, there are a range of factors to consider. The question of appropriate consent and the procedures to be followed are complex and require both consultation with your supervisor and legal advice.
Areas to explore with the young person, their partner and the young person's family/whānau include:
- why they wish to get married, and their hopes and dreams for the future
- parents and family/whānau support of the young person and their ongoing role in their life
- whether is it still appropriate for the chief executive to remain a guardian of the young person and if it is appropriate to place the matter before the Family Court for consideration.
Finances of the child or young person
A child or young person's personal finances include their pocket money, their earnings and any other income.
A child or young person in care should have their own bank account, and there needs to be some consideration given to the best way to manage that account. This includes what access the child or young person should have to the account themselves.
If a child or young person's income is more significant than pocket money or job earnings (e.g. compensation or trust monies), then it may be appropriate to place the monies in a trust account for the child or young person's future use. Seek advice from your site legal advisor regarding establishment of a trust account.
Any monies held in trust or in a bank account of a child or young person in the care of the chief executive are the property of that child or young person and are held for their benefit. The funds are not to be used for any other purpose. In the case of any receipt of compensation or trust monies, seek advice from your site legal advisor.
When living independently or at boarding school consider having the young person's pocket money paid directly in to their own account. This allows some sense of independence and assists with budgeting skills at an early stage.
Authority to control the income and earnings of a young person in care is provided for under s390 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
There is no specific requirement for a young person to make a will - this is a decision for a young person to make. However, any person over the age of 18 years who is under the guardianship of the chief executive and who has a significant amount of assets or money invested would be well advised to make a will.
Any young person between the ages of 16 and 18 years can make a will if they so choose.
Overseas travel is a guardianship decision and any child or young person under the age of 16 requires the consent of a parent of guardian before a passport can be issued. The chief executive as a sole or additional guardian may consent to the application for a passport. If the chief executive is an additional guardian, the social worker must first seek the consent of the other guardians. If consent is refused, seek legal advice.
The requirements for issuing a passport to a child or young person under the age of 16 years when they are under the guardianship of the chief executive are set out in the Passport Act 1992. This requires that:
- a site manager confirms in writing, on letterhead, that the person who completed 'Section 10: Consent for issue of a passport to a child' of the application form has the authority to do so on behalf of the chief executive and that they have consulted with the other parents or guardians of the child or young person making the application
- a social worker or someone who fits the criteria for being the 'child witness' (as outlined in the guidance notes of the application form) needs to complete 'Section 11: Witness section'
- the original guardianship order accompanies the passport application.
When a young person is 16 years old they can complete their own passport application. However they still need someone who fits the criteria to complete Section 11 and arrange financial support.
For information regarding the international travel of a child or young person in the custody of the chief executive go to theWhen children and young people move policy.