web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Save the Family Court

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, February 11th, 2013 - 7 comments
Categories: child welfare, democratic participation, families, human rights, law - Tags: ,

The Government’s Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill is receiving submissions until this Wednesday, 13 February.  For a number of reasons this Bill needs drastic alteration.  The women at the Women’s Health Action Trust and the Auckland Women’s Health Centre have put together an excellent document as to why the Bill is headed in the wrong direction (pdf), and shorter (pdf) and longer templated submissions (pdf) against it.  I presume they’ll be happy with me bringing it to a different audience, in a bid to get more submissions against the Government’s Bill.

Rather than me re-hashing the flaws in the government’s bill, let me quote a large section of the document: (bolding mine)

The stated aims of the Bill are to reduce the costs of the Family Court and speed up its processes. The Bill does this by introducing a variety of measures that limit access to the Family Court and simplify the Court processes. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Providers will be established to create a formal (privatised) approach to out-of-Court dispute resolution, principally for care of children and guardianship proceedings. Counselling sessions will be slashed from six hours to one. Parties will work with an approved FDR provider such as a mediator, to reach agreements. This will be compulsory. The use of Court professionals (psychologists and lawyers) will be restricted and lawyers for children will only be appointed where safety issues are identified. There are, however, no processes identified in the Bill to identify domestic violence or other problems such as poor or neglectful parenting practices, or mental health or drug and alcohol problems.

The Family Court will be subsidised for those few who meet the legal aid threshold, but will cost approximately $897 per half day for the rest. The costs of these processes will be prohibitive for many women. It will also mean that if a mother wants to progress the safety of her children, and the matter is not considered to meet the criteria for access to the Family Court, she will have to pay to keep her child safe. Furthermore, parents cannot file proceedings until they have been through mediation, so those on legal aid will have no access to legal advice until after the FDR stage.

The removal of the right to legal representation from FDR and the prehearing processes is a breach of human rights. Many people will not be able to complete Court documents or represent themselves without legal assistance for a variety of reasons, including stress, intimidation, language barriers, health, and confidence issues. Access to lawyers will be denied for most disputes over children, even where there is domestic violence, sexual abuse, and drug/alcohol issues. [..]

The Bill provides a separate pathway where abuse is identified, but this pathway is only available where there is “proof” of physical abuse. [..] Restricting mother’s access to the Court and forcing them into mediation will put women at risk and could force mothers to accept decisions that are not safe and/or in the children’ s interests.

The Bill holds the interests of the child as paramount [..] However, it does not state that the safety and enhancement of resilience in children who have been exposed to and/or may be the targets of violence is the most important aspect of children’s well-being. One of the five aspects is the child’s right to be brought up by both parents. Specifically, the principle also states that both parents are to be involved in decision-making about the child. If the parents cannot agree, then it’s off to mediation or counselling, or, rarely, a Court hearing.

Interestingly, Australia introduced shared parenting legislation in 2006. However, it was found that there was not enough judicial attention to the violence of the perpetrator and to the safety of the child. The Australian Parliament amended their law in 2011, strengthening the focus on child safety and domestic violence. The Australians realised that too many children were being exposed to violence; the last straw was an incident involving a five year-old girl who was thrown off a Melbourne bridge by her father, whose previous violence had been minimised and ignored by the Court.

So the legislation seems to copy unsuccessful Australian legislation that has been re-written.  It reduces the costs of the Family Court by putting out of the financial reach of many of those who most need it, and it forces those who’ve been experiencing violence into inappropriate mediation as it’s cheaper.

The templated submissions can give you a start on what to say: the long submission goes through the research evidence and history of why this Bill is a bad idea, the short submission has a beautiful punchiness.

Go ahead – submit and participate in democracy…

7 comments on “Save the Family Court”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    Since my children were both victims of the utter incompetence of the Family Court and had their lives wrecked by the Family Court, I’d say good riddance to it.

  2. Jilly Bee 2

    My daughter has been a victim too – the past 5 years have been a living hell for her and us, her parents, but I don’t know how she would cope without the help of her Barrister, which will probably not happen after October. Her ex knows how to rort the system and deny access of her children to our family.

  3. It is an important issue and having seen the damage that can be done by break ups I believe that it is more important than many parts of the court system.

    The current law works pretty well. It is child focussed and the use of professionals means that those inclined to make a mess of things through feelings of hurt or revenge are mostly controlled.

    Sending these cases to compulsory mediation is the wrong thing to do. They will not have the necessary skills.

    Of course there will be a short term saving as the cost of professionals can be cut. But down the line the cost of screwed up lives will be considerable.

  4. RedBaronCV 4

    While I applaud your sentiments I really don’t think there is that much to save.
    The Court doesn’t really do anything, although in fairness it has been gutted by High Court decisions.
    It makes:
    – few protection orders compared to recorded assaults, about 3%,
    – has a minimal impact on child support – $1000 per family per annum,
    – arrangements for the care of the children are, as far as we know, rarely kept by “access” parents.
    Compliance with arrangements hasn’t really been studied but the data we have shows that the
    secondary caregiver doesn’t bother to keep court orders for long.
    – intervention focused on primary caregivers is absolutely excessive in many cases. These adults are good enough to care for the children and pay the bills but require “intervention” from around 20 adults telling them how to lead their lives. In some cases the number of “intervenors” can soar up towards the 80 level and many of the “intervenors” are doing little more than co-abusing.

    There is also a huge amount of provider capture with the ADR model and this has really blown the costs out. They are very well paid. This “touchy- feely gang” live on another planet. Their response to “access” parents not turning up is that “counselling will fix this”. Really? If someone isn’t going to turn up to see their kids then why on earth do they imagine they will turn up to counselling.
    Why do we spend $60m on something that isn’t enforced and the majority of offenders are male.

    At the moment all ADR does is give a bully access to their target market with no come back when they don’t keep the arrangements. It’s just a free shot at harrassing the caregiving parent.

    However, the answer is actually really simple. Any care arrangements made have to be kept. There is a financial penalty, $20 would be sufficent, when they are not. A small % of lapses would be allowed per annum. This would get rid of all the parents who have no intention of turning up on day one and leave only parents prepared to be responsible negotiating.

Links to post

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    Labour
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    Labour
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    Labour
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    Labour
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    Labour
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
  • Foreign buyers for iconic island must add value
    Labour will look very closely at any Overseas Investment Office application to purchase Pakatoa Island if it is not bought by a Kiwi, says Labour’s Land information Spokesperson Stuart Nash. “Pakatoa is an iconic island in the middle of Hauraki… ...
    Labour
  • Minister ducking for cover over ‘Diplomat Case’
    Apparently the Ministerial Inquiry into what now seems to be being referred to as ‘The Diplomat Case’ ( I have a few other names for it) has been completed and is in front of Foreign Affairs Minister McCully. Initial Reports seem to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
  • Energy users need answers on Vector share plans
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges needs to stop ducking for cover about whether or not the Government will support plans to nationalise and then privatise $2.1 billion of shares in the Auckland Electricity Consumer Trust, Labour's Energy spokesperson Stuart Nash says. “It… ...
    Labour
  • Turning up the heat on working conditions
    A “Jobs That Count” campaign has the full support of Labour, the party’s Labour Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. Organised by the Meat Workers Union, the campaign aims to put the spotlight on job insecurity in the meat processing industry. ...
    Labour
  • Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility
    Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
  • Failure to diversify puts prosperity at risk
    Beyond the news that a long-promised surplus is unlikely, further embarrassment is hidden in the fine print of the half year economic and fiscal update, Labour says. "National’s failure to rebalance the economy is further exposed in projections from its… ...
    Labour
  • Ombudsman probe targets Ministerial integrity
    John Key is on notice that the entrenched cynical and manipulative abuse of official information requests by his Government will no longer be tolerated, Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran says. “The announcement by the Ombudsman of a wide-ranging review… ...
    Labour
  • Bill English’s face is redder than his books
    The Government owes New Zealanders an apology for failing to deliver the surplus it spent four years and two election campaigns promising, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Bill English’s face is redder than the Crown accounts. This is the… ...
    Labour
  • Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to thin...
    Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
  • Minister closes down dissent on climate change
    Minister closes down dissent on climate change In a threatening letter to Maori leaders, Minister for Climate Change Tim Groser says he will be requiring future international delegations to toe the party line, Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says.… ...
    Labour
  • Heartfelt sympathy for Sydneysiders
    The Labour Party has offered its heartfelt sympathy to the people of Sydney after the hostage situation in the city, says Labour’s Acting leader Grant Robertson.  “Our thoughts are with all those who went through this horrific and traumatic experience. ...
    Labour
  • Labour applauds High Court decision on Ruataniwha
    Today’s decision by the High Court on the Ruataniwha scheme is a victory for NewZealand’s environmental groups, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson RuthDyson. ...
    Labour
  • A welfare system for the 21st Century
    Today Child Poverty Action Group released a background paper on ‘The complexities of ‘relationship’ in the welfare system and the consequences for children.‘ The report includes 16 recommendations to modernise our welfare system which is no longer fit for the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
  • Welfare system out of date and out of touch
    A new Child Poverty Action Group report released today highlights another example of how our outmoded social welfare system is harming kids, says Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The complexities of how a ‘relationship’ is defined in the welfare… ...
    Labour
  • NZ should formally recognise Palestine
    New Zealand should follow the lead of Sweden, and now recognise Palestine as a separate state On 30 October, Sweden’s new government formally recognised the state of Palestine, only the second Western country to do so, after Iceland. Down here… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
  • James Shaw’s adjournment speech on behalf of the Green Party
    It is a great honour for me to speak on behalf of the Green Party in this adjournment debate. I thank my colleagues for the privilege. I became a MP only 12 weeks ago, a period of time that seems… ...
    GreensBy James Shaw MP
  • A Tale of Two Farms
    Pig farming has yet again been thrust into the public view with two programmes this week on Campbell Live highlighting the very different conditions for pigs on two very different farms. The first programme exposed the awful conditions on… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
  • Tourist safety tags won’t lower toll, says safety campaigner
    Steering wheel tags with road safety tips for visiting drivers will do little or nothing to lower the tourist road toll, says a prominent road safety campaigner. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Tourist safety tags won’t lower toll, says safety campaigner
    Steering wheel tags with road safety tips for visiting drivers will do little or nothing to lower the tourist road toll, says a prominent road safety campaigner. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Public invited to have say on human rights record
    A draft report on New Zealand’s performance under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been released for public comment by the Ministry of Justice. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Public invited to have say on human rights record
    A draft report on New Zealand’s performance under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been released for public comment by the Ministry of Justice. ...
    Scoop politics
  • “Prominent Auckland businessman” a depraved predator
    The 15-year prison sentence imposed on a “prominent Auckland businessman” for shackling and sexually violating young drug-addicted girls in a dungeon, has been welcomed by sexual violence advocacy group, Stop Demand Foundation. ...
    Scoop politics
  • “Prominent Auckland businessman” a depraved predator
    The 15-year prison sentence imposed on a “prominent Auckland businessman” for shackling and sexually violating young drug-addicted girls in a dungeon, has been welcomed by sexual violence advocacy group, Stop Demand Foundation. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Proprietors of Wakatū v Attorney-General
    The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the Wakatū Incorporation, Rore Pat Stafford and Te Kāhui Ngahuru Trust alleging breaches of trust and fiduciary duty against the Crown. The High Court had also dismissed the claims. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Proprietors of Wakatū v Attorney-General
    The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the Wakatū Incorporation, Rore Pat Stafford and Te Kāhui Ngahuru Trust alleging breaches of trust and fiduciary duty against the Crown. The High Court had also dismissed the claims. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Smith investigation warrants executed
    Auckland City Police investigating prison absconder Phillip Smith's activities prior to his departure from New Zealand recently, are aware of allegations about a Department of Corrections staff member and today located and spoke with the person named in ...
    Scoop politics
  • Is Your Family Ok This Christmas?
    For many people Christmas is a time for gift giving and eating until you fall asleep on your Grandparent’s sofa. Unfortunately, in New Zealand, many families do not experience Christmas this way. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Government delivers realistic land transport investment plan
    Government delivers realistic land transport investment plan The AA has welcomed the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on land transport 2015/16 - 2024/25. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Korero Mai Kia Ahau: Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 December 2014
    Despite the cracking pace set by Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson, National fell short of its 2014 deadline for completing historic Treaty settlements and quietly extended it to 2017. In Kia Korero Mai, Eruera Morgan talks to Waitangi ...
    Scoop politics
  • Reminder of the value of council recreation investment
    High holiday season demand for city parks, aquatic centres, cycleways and other recreation infrastructure highlights the vital importance of continued council investment in new facilities, says New Zealand Recreation Association Chief Executive Andrew Leslie. ...
    Scoop politics
  • Judge Advises Circumventing Law on Fluoride
    Justice David Collins has taken it upon himself to advise the NZ Ministry of Health's legal team on how best to circumvent the Judicial Review before him, regarding fluoridation in New Zealand. It appears the Judge is well aware that… ...
    Scoop politics
  • Consultation on NZ report on the Rights of the Child
    Sacha O’Dea, General Manager, Ageing, Disability and International of the Ministry of Social Development, announced the opening of public consultation on the Fifth Periodic Report under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) ...
    Scoop politics
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere