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Tinkering won't fix Family Court woes

Tinkering won't fix Family Court woes

Minor changes to the Family Court fall way short of what is required to give children and families a better deal, says National MP Nick Smith, who is facing contempt of court charges for his criticisms of the court.

"The Minister of Courts is way out of touch in claiming the Family Court is working well. I have been inundated with hundreds of horror stories from the Family Court, stories that cannot be told because of the veil of secrecy under which the court operates. Nor are there any statistics kept on which we can judge the Court's performance.

"The idea that some staff training, a public relations campaign and some non-Judge mediation will resolve public concerns about the Family Court is laughable. These changes look more like a public relations strategy than a serious attempt to address the deep-seated problems in the Family Court.

"What is required is a major rewrite of our family laws to reassert the rights and responsibilities of both mothers and fathers. Strict timelines need to be established so cases involving children do not go on for years.

"There also needs to be far greater incentives to resolve disputes without recourse to the Courts. We must also subject the Family Court to the disinfectant of sunlight because it is only with less secrecy that we can really judge the performance of our family laws and institutions," says Dr Smith.

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