19 Jul 2013

Family Court changes ahead

2:47 pm on 19 July 2013

Despite vociferous criticism, Justice Minister Judith Collins seems intent on pushing through legislation revamping the Family Court, with its second reading held under urgency earlier this month.

The Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill is due to have its third reading later this year and is likely to come into effect some time next year.

Family Court sign

Photo: NZ Govt

The bill attracted almost 400 submissions and many submitters took the opportunity to attend the select committee hearings earlier this year.

Ms Collins says the cost of running the Family Court has risen by about 70% in the last five or six years and it's time that was reined in.

One of the main features of the revamped court will be the establishment of a Dispute Resolution Service, which will use trained mediators to work through issues with both parties in a family disagreement.

Attendance at the service will be mandatory for those making applications to the Family Court.

Other changes include a reduction in use of counsel for children and also less involvement of lawyers at early stages in family disputes.

More about this can be heard on Radio New Zealand's Insight programme on Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw