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Value of Family Court Counselling Highlighted

Media Statement – embargoed until noon 13 May 2008 13 May 2008

Value of Family Court Counselling Highlighted

“Family Court counselling is a real help to parents who are separating, and needs to be more widely known,” said Jo-Ann Vivian, National Practice Manager of Relationship Services.

The outcome of the recent study by the Families Commission on separating parents confirms the value of the free counselling service provided by the Family Court, and raises concerns about how well utilised this service is.

Putting the Kids First – caring for children after separation found that the most common source of information for separating parents was the counsellors they accessed through the Family Court.

“It is a real shame more separating parents don’t appreciate the valuable service available to assist them to develop good parenting plans for their children,” Ms Vivian said.

“There is still a lot of confusion about the court funded counselling that may put some people off. The counselling sessions are funded by the Court, but do not use lawyers or court hearings.”

The counselling is widely available, with Relationship Services offering it in over 70 towns and cites throughout New Zealand. When parents live in different places, each can see a local Relationship Services counsellor.

“Our clients tell us that having a counsellor supporting them through the emotional roller coaster of separation, providing them with information and a neutral venue to sort out the ongoing care of their children, helps both them and their children,” said Ms Vivian.

Counselling can assist the move from ‘couple relationship’ to ‘parenting relationship’, keeping the focus on the needs of the children in a safe and respectful manner.

“Even when couples are in conflict, we know that the majority of New Zealand parents can make good, flexible parenting plans for their children without resorting to courts and legal battles. The use of free Family Court counselling can be an important component of that success.”

Relationship Services has 160 counsellors and provides family court counselling to over 7000 couples each year.


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