2 Mar 2021

Navigating the Family Court with a new guide

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 2 March 2021

Separation is often a process of pain and grief, particularly when children are involved.

Writer Katrina Smithson found out about New Zealand's Family Court system the hard way - via a four-year custody case.

She's written The New Zealand Family Court Survival Guide to give other people the insights she wishes she'd had about making the process more efficient and less costly.

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Photo: Supplied

Smithson went through her own parents' separation when she was 10 so she well knows the importance of managing the process carefully for everyone's sake.

She encourages people going through a separation to ensure every possibility of mediation has been exhausted before getting into litigation, which can be very costly - both financially and personally.

"What are the motivations for seeking the outcomes that I'm seeking? Are these outcomes really in my child's best interest? Am I protecting the relationship between my child and the other parent?"

"When you go into litigation you need to be conscious that it can be a long process and you need to reflect on what strategy you would take if you were no longer feeling as hurt or blinded by the whole process. Think of it strategically - what do you really want? Otherwise, you can make very costly mistakes and a lot of inefficient steps along the way."

Smithson hopes The New Zealand Family Court Survival Guide will help people make better decisions, save money and create more efficiency in the family court system. 

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