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Parents empowered to settle out of court

Hon Judith Collins

Minister of Justice

29 July 2014 Media Statement
Parents empowered to settle out of court

More parents are resolving their disputes outside of court only months after the Government’s family justice reforms came into effect, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.

“Progress to date confirms our reforms are empowering people to resolve their parenting disputes outside of court, minimising the stress children often face when their parents separate,” Ms Collins says.

Since the Government’s reforms came into effect on 31 March this year, 562 assessments for the New Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) mediation service have been completed and another 530 are in progress.

Of the 122 mediations completed, 87 (71 per cent) have resolved all matters in dispute between parties, without going to court. Urgent matters, such as those involving family violence, still go straight to court.

The number of Guardianship applications to the Family Court has also dropped from 481 per week to 231 per week.

“This is an encouraging trend and shows parents are taking responsibility for their actions and putting the welfare of their children first,” Ms Collins says.

The Ministry of Justice has also provided 40,000 parenting plans and booklets to a range of agencies for distribution. A further 1700 have been downloaded from the new family justice website (http://www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice).

The website has had around 1.7 million page views since its launch on March 31 – more than double that of the old Family Court site.

“It’s fantastic to see parents making a real effort to work their problems out themselves. As a result, they avoid the unnecessary conflict, delays and expense the court process may involve, and the Family Court remains free to focus on the most serious and urgent matters.”

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