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What About The Family Court?

What About The Family Court?

Wednesday 3 Dec 2003
Dr Muriel Newman
Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today expressed disappointment - but not surprise - that, while media attention has been grabbed by a restructuring of our courts, little has been said about the need to re-vamp the Family Court.

"By far, the Family Court is our most flawed court - secrecy and endless litigation are tearing parents and their children apart," Dr Newman said.

"As an MP I receive many letters and calls from frustrated parents - some who have not seen their children in years - all asking for help. Lack of public scrutiny means that Family Court decisions are made in secret, with affected parties forbidden to speak of them. Is it any wonder that parents kept from their children are crying out in frustration?

"ACT has long campaigned for the Family Court to be opened up, and I currently have a petition calling for that before Select Committee. The Australian example shows that removing the court's shroud of secrecy would result in better family outcomes, less litigation and cost, and lower incidence of Child Support refusal.

"That a New Zealand court regularly marginalises children, by excluding one of their parents from their lives - under a shroud of secrecy and threat of criminal prosecution - is unacceptable in a civilised society.

"All available research shows that children who have stable relationships with both parents do better in all aspects of life than those who don't.

"If there are to be any changes to our court system, then the first must be to the Family Court, for the good of children and families throughout the country," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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