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Family Court changes support priorities for reform

Hon Judith Collins
Minister of Justice

26 April 2013 Media Statement
Family Court changes support priorities for reform

Modifications to the proposed Family Court reforms support the Government’s key priorities and will ensure the family justice system works well for those who need it, says Justice Minister Judith Collins.

“This Government has three priorities driving the reform of the Family Court - we are committed to creating a Court that protects vulnerable people, provides fast and efficient resolution of private disputes, and as a priority, puts the needs of children first.

“This is a solid basis for reforming the Court and our proposed policy direction is the right one.

“I have listened carefully to feedback on the reforms during the select committee process.

“I am very pleased Cabinet has agreed to incorporate some of the feedback and make changes to our proposals that better support the three priorities driving our reforms.

“This is exactly what the select committee process is for and I thank those who have been involved,” Ms Collins says.

Proposed changes are to:

• provide up to four hours of legal support for parents who meet the legal aid threshold prior to court
• provide up to three hours of preparatory counselling to help parents make the most of Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)
• enable a judge to refer parties back to FDR or the Parenting through Separation course if it is likely to help resolve the case, and
• enable lawyers to participate earlier in the court process, at the judge’s discretion, if it would increase the chances of a successful resolution.

“The Family Court has not worked as well as it should for some families for many years and that’s why we’re changing it.

“Our family justice system must protect vulnerable people, provide fast and efficient resolution of private disputes, and put the needs of children first,” Ms Collins says.

The proposed changes will be included in the departmental report on the Family Court Reform Bill for consideration by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

More information about the Family Court reforms is available from www.justice.govt.nz.


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