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Group Aims to get Family Court Review on Track


Group Aims to get Family Court Review on Track

“New Zealand’s family law is now desperately out of date, as countries like Australia, UK and Israel move to far more family friendly regimes. But as the government does yet another review of the controversial Family Court, all the indications are that the review will gloss over the vital issues”, says Bruce Tichbon, spokesperson for Families Apart Require Equality (FARE).

“In recognition of this, FARE has released an addendum to the governments review documents so that the public has an opportunity to address more of the important issues”.

“The government discussion document states that family law social policy will not be looked at, only administrative changes will be made. The government has thus signaled it will cut costs but won’t deal with the underlying social problems. Even worse misery for children and parents could result” says Mr Tichbon.

NZ’s family law policy is structured to cause competition between separating parents, and hence to maximise arguments, litigation and costs for government and users alike. There is nothing explicit in our family law that says parents are effective equals. Hence parents are often left to battle it out to settle issues such as who will be the primary caregiver (custodial parent), and who will get the government benefits (most importantly the Domestic Purposes Benefit).

The solution is to make parents substantially equal through presumptive shared parenting. This simple policy significantly reduces arguing between parents and hence reduces government costs. Shared parenting has been implemented in Australia; and UK and Israel are about to follow suite.

“The government is trying to relieve itself of the excessive costs of the Family Court, without offering any substantive relief for the families that are affected by our polarising family law. Unfortunately, the current government initiatives with the Family Court could make things worse, not better. The needs of children and families must come first”, concluded Tichbon.


Government discussion document – Reviewing the Family Court - a public consultation paper September 2011

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