Briefing papers released on Shared Parenting Bill
March 21 2000
For immediate release
Government briefing papers released on Shared Parenting Bill
Women's Affairs Minister Laila Harré says briefing papers released today show Muriel Newman's Shared Parenting Bill is unlikely to achieve its aim of improving the welfare of New Zealand children.
Laila Harré released the Ministry of Women's Affairs briefing papers on Tuesday night at a multi-party meeting of Women MPs.
"The briefing papers present some quite different facts than those being put forward by Dr Newman," she says.
"The Bill demonstrates a lack of understanding about current legislation around custody, access and guardianship and it isn't backed up by evidence."
The briefing papers conclude that the Shared Parenting Bill is not similar to laws in other jurisdictions, particularly the United States, as argued by Dr Newman.
Under New Zealand's current legislation parents come to an agreement over custody in 95% of cases, with only a small percentage of Family Court applications resulting in contested hearings.
Laila Harré says overseas experience shows that joint physical custody is most beneficial to children where parents are able to communicate effectively, something legislation cannot enforce.
"A better approach would be to assess whether there are specific problems in particular cases and to try and address those rather than bring forth radical change through a Bill which isn't based on sound research," she says.
"At this stage the evidence does not back a move away from the paramount consideration being the interests of the child."