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Family Court Powers Need Scrutiny

Family Court Powers Need Scrutiny

“The increasing number of children who have been the subjects of custody disputes at some stage in their short and tragic lives and who have gone on to suffer the consequences indicates that a review of Family Court legislation is called for” said Barbara Stewart, New Zealand First’s spokesperson for family issues.

“Parental substance abuse and violence have played a large part in several high profile tragedies in recent years.

“However it appears that there is no protective legislation which would require parents, step parents, de facto partners or indeed any other adult who lives in the same house as the child or with whom the child has regular contact, to be alcohol and/or drug free” said Mrs Stewart.

“There also appears to be a need to raise the bar with regard to violence, both by parents and de facto partners who may have access to children. If custodial parents move into relationships with partners who have a history of violence, whether or not it is in a domestic setting, custody orders should be revisited.

“Given the absence of such requirements any objections presently raised by other family members or social workers can be brushed aside.”

“Times are changing and given the proliferation of drugs and the increase in domestic violence if there is no legal requirement for the Family Court to investigate these fundamental aspects of safety for children, then an examination of this deficiency is immediately called for” said Mrs Stewart.

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