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Concern for children caught in conflict

August 3, 2012

Concern for children caught in conflict

New Zealand families will be caught in conflict if proposed interim measures following the Family Court Review go ahead, Relationships Aotearoa says.

“There are likely to be unintended consequences of the interim arrangement to reduce the number of Government funded counselling sessions from six to one,” says Relationships Aotearoa Chief Executive, Fran Hoover.

“One free session of early intervention may create more problems than it solves.

“Common sense tells us that couples in conflict will not resolve differences in an hour, especially when it comes to separation and sorting out issues relating to their children.

“We are particularly concerned that family violence issues will go undetected. A significant number of the couples we see in the current system are experiencing family violence and this often only surfaces as the sessions progress.

“We support the principles of keeping couples out of the courts through the proposed family dispute resolution service, the mandatory use of Parenting through Separation programmes and better information for separating couples.

“However, we urge the Government to maintain the counselling early intervention that is currently available until the new family dispute service is up and running.

“With the help of a skilled counsellor, separating couples develop parenting plans and get their relationship to a place where they can deal with each other in a civil manner for the sake of their children. Around 80 per cent of couples currently deal with it like this without going to Court.

“Those with access to disposable income may be able to pay for their own assistance, but many low and middle income New Zealanders will be left with only one session, which is unlikely to reduce the conflict in their relationship, or address the needs of their children,” Fran Hoover says.

ENDS

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