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Report on Family Court reform welcomed

Hon Judith Collins
Minister of Justice

4 June 2013

Report on Family Court reform welcomed

Justice Minister Judith Collins today welcomed a Justice and Electoral Select Committee report on the Family Court Reform Bill.

“I acknowledge the work of the select committee, which has reviewed the Bill in light of nearly 400 written submissions and more than 200 oral submissions,” Ms Collins says.

“The changes support a Family Court that protects vulnerable people, provides fast and efficient resolution to private family disputes and puts the needs of children first.

“Often the Family Court is not the best means for helping families and it should be one part of a wider system that helps people resolve family issues.

“These changes will encourage faster, less adversarial resolution of disputes, and enable the Family Court to focus on the most serious cases.”

Key changes to the Bill include:

• providing up to four hours of legal support for parents who meet the legal aid threshold prior to court
• providing up to three hours of preparatory counselling per case to help parents make the most of Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)
• enabling a judge to refer parties back to FDR or the Parenting through Separation course if it is likely to help resolve the case
• enabling lawyers to participate earlier in the court process, at the judge’s discretion, if it would increase the chances of a successful resolution
• providing greater clarity around the provisions for dealing with domestic violence
• enabling provisions of the Act to be brought into force on different dates by Order in Council, providing flexibility in implementing some changes.

Ms Collins says the family court reforms will also clarify the court’s processes and rules, providing greater certainty for users, and making it easier for them to understand and navigate the court system.

ENDS

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