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Report Glossy, Weighty, But Empty

Report Glossy, Weighty, But Empty

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today slammed the New Zealand Law Commission's `Dispute Resolution in the Family Court' report as a 300-page smokescreen.

"While it is glossy and weighty, the report - prompted by `widespread criticism of the Family Court in New Zealand' - actually does little to address the real issues," Dr Newman said.

"Thanks to a strong perception of gender bias - and concerns about never-ending, costly litigation - the Family Court's reputation is currently at an all-time low.

"The report is based on subjective opinion - rather than factual data or research - and fails to recognise international experience showing that most of the problems faced by our Family Court would disappear if it was an open court, rather than a secret one. Further, if custody outcomes favoured shared parenting - rather than maternal sole custody - the problems of gender bias, ongoing litigation, false allegations and non-compliance with child support requirements would all virtually disappear.

"Since shared parenting and the opening up of the Family Court have been significant issues of major public concern during Labour's tenure in Government, it is enormously disappointing that they have not been properly addressed in this report.

"As a result, I propose to write to Justice Minister Phil Goff, complaining that this weighty document - which is supposed to tackle `widespread criticism of the family court' - fails to address the two most serious issues surrounding family law in New Zealand," Dr Newman said.

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