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Family Court counselling works – So don’t break it

Family Court counselling works – So don’t break it

“Family court counselling works well right now” says Hilary Smith speaking on behalf of a group of Wellington counsellors. “We’re worried that the review of the Family Court could undermine that”.

At the moment couples can get 6 sessions of counselling to sort out their relationship, or to deal with separation and to plan for the care of their children.

“4 out of 5 couples sort these issues out at counselling. They don’t have to go on to court. We think that’s a pretty good rate of success” said Hilary Smith “It’s especially good since the counselling costs far less than other more formal court proceedings.”

“If the review makes it harder or more expensive for people to get counselling, then it’s likely a lot of couples and families will miss out” she said “They are looking to cut costs, but we think cuts to counselling could end up costing the country a lot more in the long run.”

“We are concerned about what will happen to the couples that don’t get counselling,” said Ms Smith.

The counsellors’ submission to the review identifies some of the bad outcomes they anticipate.

• More cases will escalate and end up in court. This will cost time, money and distress.
• More people will feel there is no help available for them. They will live unhappily with horrible situations. So will their children.
• Some of the people that don’t get help will end up in some kind of crisis – family violence, mental or physical health collapse, job loss, self destructive behaviour, with all the public costs and personal unhappiness that involves.
• Delay in getting help will mean more relationships deteriorate and end in a destructive way. That’s bad for the couple and any children concerned. It’s also bad for the communities those people live in.
• It will miss the opportunity for early intervention, and good skill development.

“We think Family court counselling works well and it costs less than the alternatives. It’s accessible to people when they need it. It helps couples and families to help themselves,” said Hilary Smith “It’s a good investment, we just hope the review can recognise that.”

Click here to read the submission to the review of the Family Court.


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