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Justice reforms work against resolution

Andrew Little
Justice Spokesperson

29 July 2013

Justice reforms work against resolution

The Government's family court reforms will leave more couples left to deal with the aftermath of separation on their own and is likely to see protracted family disputes, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little.

“Justice Minister Judith Collins is trying to defend her reform package by saying it will result in more efficient resolution of disputes and arguing that it isn’t the government's job to provide relationship counselling.

"But the new family dispute resolution scheme will actually mean some parties in separation cases will have less access to advice, while all parties will be denied representation at the very time they need it - when they are settling on parenting and other arrangements.

"That is likely to see disputes drag on, not resolve them faster.

"A big change in the new scheme is that children will have no right of separate representation even though we are a signatory to an international agreement that promises children will have a voice in disputes that affect them and their wellbeing.

"The process will place a huge responsibility on facilitators to ensure neither party has an undue advantage over the other, both are aware of their legal rights, the children of the relationship are properly accounted for and that any agreement is genuine and will be stuck to.

"Ms Collins complains that the cost of the family court has risen in recent years but fails to say that it is because parties to family disputes, in particular men, are asserting their right to be heard and to have an effective involvement in their children's upbringing after separation.

"It gets clearer by the day that these changes aren't about what's best for separating families, but about cost-cutting for the short-term claim that the government can make a surplus, with no regard to the negative impact on families and children."

ENDS

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