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Minister Welcomes Family Courts Bill

Minister Welcomes Family Courts Bill

Courts Minister Rick Barker said that last Friday’s passing of the provisions in the Family Courts Matters Bill, is a welcome move to provide new services to families and extend the openness of the Family Court.

“The original Bill was split into 12 amendment Acts.  One of the key provisions introduces family mediation to help families resolve disputes at an early stage and extends the availability of counselling to help resolve matters under the Care of Children Act 2004.”

Children who are involved in Family Court proceedings will be offered counselling for the first time.

“This counselling will help children who are taking part in mediation so they can form and express their views.  It will also help parents know what is important to their child when making decisions about care arrangements,” said Mr Barker.

“Family Court processes and procedures will also be improved once the new legislation is implemented.”

The duties of the existing Family Court Registrars will be extended, and new Senior Family Court Registrar positions will be established to relieve Judges of some routine work.  

“There are also new provisions for media extending the openness of the Family Courts from that provided under the Care of Children Act 2004, to now allow media to attend all Family Court proceedings,” said Mr Barker.

Anyone will be allowed to publish a report on Family Court proceedings, providing there is no information identifying vulnerable persons or children without leave of the Court.  This will bring other Family Court proceedings into line with the provisions in the Care of Children Act 2004.  

The more technical features, such as the attendance and reporting provisions will be put into place over the next few months.

Family mediation, counselling for children and the Senior Family Court Registrar positions will take longer as they are new services which require detailed design and implementation planning.

Minister Barker said “those involved in family court proceedings are always dealing with serious issues and these further improvements will assist in making the whole experience easier.”

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