Put yourself in the Judge’s seat. You are presented with an array of accusation and denial. Largely bereft of any evidence, you must attempt to sift through th chaffe because legislation asserts you must, and do so more or less blind.
It seems to me there is a relatively simple way of overcoming the Family Court’s requirement to even contemplate uncorroborated accusations against the defending partner.
All accusations must be lodged with the NZ Police. They in turn must decide if charges can or should be laid against the accused.
In the event the Police charge the accused then the case goes straight to the District (Criminal) Court. Depending on severity the accused could opt for a Jury Trial. In other words, if Ms Surgenor’s ‘cap’ is up for fitting, then allow the criminal court to do the fitting.
Meanwhile….ergo, until the ‘facts’ of any accusation(s) have been revealed, both ‘parents’ have equal care of the related children even if, in their wisdom, the Police invoke an interim trespass order against the accused. Thus the party in whose favour the trespass order has been invoked must arrange a suitable contact point for the delivery and collection of the children for 50/50 care arrangements. This could easily be the foyer of the local Police station.
In the event the Police believe sufficient evidence exists to charge a partner with physical or sexual abuse of a child, then they would be required to press those charges and annex (rightfully) the accused from further contact with the child(ren) until the case was heard and the accused found guilty.
At some later date, after the trial of the accused, the results are presented to the FC. In this way the Judges at the FC can only ever be charged with dealing with facts. At the moment they are required to deal with all manner of opinion, feeling, guess, lie, half-truth, and truth.
During the FC hearing, no accusations of any sort, which have not been passed to the Police for scrutiny and further action, may be introduced. Those which have been are aired, and the results of investigations/trials revealed.
1. Ms Bloggs accused Bloggs of (?). No grounds for charges.
2. Ms Bloggs accused Bloggs of (?). District Court said, ‘Not Gulity!’
3. Ms Bloggs accused Bloggs of (?). No evidence.
In the event ‘specialist’ investigation is deemed a requirement, then the person(s) investigated must be allowed to provide their own specialist investigator and the results of both investigations are to be given equal weight by the court. If the reports cancel each other then neither can be given weight.
In this way, reliance on the old saw, ‘The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,’ would not be allowed.
The FC then needs to do little more than determine the nature of shared care in the event the couple can’t get there via negotiation. The FC wouldn’t even need to consider which of the parties had been more or less cooperative in the failed negotiation process. All it would have to do is assess the needs of the children’s schooling, sports, and extra-curricular activities, and determine with whom and where the kids should be during weekends and week days.
The parties would have to demonstrate sufficient income, access to suitable housing and acess to suitable transport for the kids. But if all that is worked out then the court simply works out how the 50/50 care arrangements are designed.
The court would also caution the parties that failure to subscribe to the design would attract penalties.
Would not this process cut out all the crap so many go through? And would it not ensure that the real rogues are properly charged and dealt to? While saving the tax-payer the vast sums wasted in the FC. And would probably have a dramatic affect on reducing DPB entitlements.