900 new reasons for delays in getting family justice
2 August 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
Nine hundred new reasons for delays in getting family justice
A new fee of $897 to access the Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDR) – the entry step to most matters to be dealt with by the Family Court under reforms announced by National today – will be a huge barrier in obtaining justice for many families caught up in unhappy domestic situations, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel says.
“Judith Collins has privatised family dispute resolution services today, and priced them out of the reach of many Kiwi families.”
Under the changes, FDR will replace most Family Court counselling and mediation services.
“The fee – expressed as ‘$780+GST’ in a Q+A issued by Judith Collins today, will apply up-front to the new service, which is charged with dealing with Care of Children Act proceedings, including parenting or guardianship disputes.”
Other common Care of Children Act disputes include care and contact arrangements, choosing a school and extra-curricular activities, and school holiday care.
“Many families will simply not be able to afford a new $900 fee to access what was previously a free service in recognition of the importance of ensuring parents of children in unhappy domestic situations are not deterred from getting assistance to resolve their differences promptly.
“It follows the introduction of fees and hearing charges for certain types of Family Court proceedings initiated by the Government earlier this year.
“However, today’s announcement is far more serious, and makes accessing family dispute mechanisms much more difficult.
“Combined with cuts to legal aid that have already been made, and those yet to be announced, it paints a bleak picture. Family disputes that should be resolved quickly and freely will now be prolonged – in some cases indefinitely,” Charles Chauvel said.