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Family Court Issues Tabled

Family Court Issues Tabled

Supplementary Order Papers amending the Family Court Matters Bill have been tabled by Courts Minister, Rick Barker. One deals with extending government funded supervised contact and allowing Family Courts to approve providers in their local area. The other seeks to create the new role of Senior Family Court Registrar to assist Judges.

Government funded supervised contact was implemented under the Care of Children Act which came into effect on 1 July 2005.  It is currently provided where Family Courts direct formal supervised contact under section the Care of Children Act 2004, because it is satisfied that a party to proceedings has used violence against a child or other party.  

"My Supplementary Order Paper on supervised contact will widen the scope by allowing supervised contact to be funded by the government when ordered under the Domestic Violence Act.

"This will have an impact on a small number of cases but it seems fair to me that if supervised contact is ordered under the Domestic Violence Act, affected families should have the same right to government funding as they would if it was ordered under the Care of Children Act. The main reason for funding supervised contact is to ensure the child’s safety while recognising the child’s rights to an ongoing relationship with both parents even if the child is not living with one or both parents.

"I am also seeking to amend the Bill to allow the Family Court to approve providers in their local area this will help address a shortage of approved providers and supervised contact sessions in some areas."

The second Supplementary Order Paper seeks to establish the position of Senior Family Court Registrar.

"This new position will have a positive impact on the Family Court’s performance by alleviating current pressures on judicial resources and ensuring that interlocutory applications are dealt with more quickly, especially in smaller courts, Mr Barker said.

The Family Court Matters Bill has had its second reading and is currently awaiting committee stage.


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