Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Family Court reforms put children first

Hon Judith Collins
Minister of Justice

2 August 2012

Family Court reforms put children first

Justice Minister Judith Collins today unveiled the Government’s plans to reform the Family Court – the first significant changes to the Court since it was established in 1981.

The proposals respond to the serious concerns about the Family Court raised by the public, judges, lawyers and counsellors during a comprehensive review of the Court, completed earlier this year.

Ms Collins says New Zealand needs a modern, accessible family justice system that is efficient, effective and more responsive to children and vulnerable people.

“Our reforms will ensure the Family Court renews its focus towards those who need it most. The Court must put the needs of children first, rather than those of private couples with relationship issues.

“To better support victims of domestic violence, we’re increasing the penalty for breaching a protection order, recognising ‘economic abuse’ as a form of psychological abuse, and improving stopping domestic violence programmes.

“We’re introducing a new Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) service which will become a cornerstone feature of our family justice system, particularly for Care of Children Act cases. FDR will minimise the harmful impact conflict has on children with about 4,000 fewer court applications and 2,000 fewer children going to Court each year.

“We are also aligning the Family Court with the District and High Courts by introducing three new Court ‘tracks’ cases will follow, which support people as they navigate parts of the Court independently.

“Improved information resources and online tools will help simplify Court processes making it easier to complete new standardised forms, such as questionnaire affidavits.

“People who need immediate access to Court, legal representation and legal aid, or Court funded counselling will get it. This is not changing. What is changing is that for some private matters, people will be supported to resolve their disputes without the need to go to Court,” Ms Collins says.

Key proposals for changes to the Family Court include:

• increasing the maximum penalty for breaching a protection order from two years to three years imprisonment
• improving domestic violence treatment programmes
• extending the definition of domestic violence in the Domestic Violence Act to include ‘economic abuse’
• making participation in the successful Parenting through Separation course mandatory for most Court applicants
• introducing a new Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) service to help people get on with their lives more quickly
• introducing three new Court tracks to support people to navigate parts of the Court independently
• making the Court more efficient and effective, providing better information and Court forms, such as a standardised questionnaire affidavit, and
• targeting the use of court professionals to where they are needed most.

A Family Court Reform Bill will be introduced to the House later this year and will be referred to select committee where anyone with an interest in the Family Court will have an opportunity to have their say on the Bill.

More information about the Family Court reforms is available from

Click here for the Q+A proposals to reform the family court.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Failing To Prepare For Either Mental Health Needs, Or Covid Outbreaks

In a week when the Covid scare in Wellington and the national crisis in mental health both hit the headlines, they also seemed like mirror images of each other – in that we seem equally ill-prepared on both fronts. In both cases, contingency planning has seeds next to non-existent... More>>


National: Minister Little All Out Of Answers On Mental Health

In Parliament today Health Minister Andrew Little had few answers to my questions on the mental health crisis Labour has allowed to balloon in their nearly four years in Government, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey says... More>>


Environment: Bringing Back The Health Of Hauraki Gulf

New marine protection areas and restrictions on fishing are among a raft of changes being put in place to protect the Hauraki Gulf for future generations.
The new strategy, Revitalising the Gulf – Government action on the Sea Change Plan, released today... More>>


NZ First Returns: Winston Peters - AGM Address

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be in Auckland for the 28th New Zealand First Party Conference. It is our intention and mission to remain the most successful political party outside of National and Labour in the last three decades... More>>

Government: New Members Appointed To Waitangi Tribunal

Minister for Māori Development, Hon Willie Jackson, today announced the appointment of three new members to the Waitangi Tribunal and the reappointment of one existing member to the Waitangi Tribunal... More>>

NZNO: Nurses Reject DHB Offer And Confirm Strike Action

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says its 30,000 members who work in DHBs have voted overwhelmingly to reject a second offer in their current round of multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations... More>>





InfoPages News Channels