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Any Submissions on the Family Courts Matters Bill

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 11:07 am Mon 1st October 2007

An alert reader has noticed that we should be publicising this important piece of upcoming legislation. Thanks for the heads-up Mike.

Download the proposed Family Courts Matters Bill here. [1297 Kb pdf]

Submissions to the Social Services Select Committee on this bill are due on 29th October.

The Parliamentary debate at the introduction of this bill makes it clear that there is substantial cross-party support, indicating that it will certainly pass in some form or another.

Judith Collins (National), who has practiced in the Family Court, does a pretty good job of demonstrating how intervention by lawyers – expert at manipulation of the system – works against the best interests of children – which is to have parents who co-operate.

There is a tremendous amount of legal aid that is paid out in the Family Court area. I would really like to see the day – and this is not going to win me too many votes in my legal fraternity – when people can actually feel free to attend at the Family Court for mediation and assistance on a matter without having to feel that they have to file proceedings and affidavits, which effectively ruin any chance, in many ways, of their ever having a decent relationship. I have seen affidavits prepared and sent to me for witnessing, by others, that are patently untrue. I have had to say: “I am sorry. I do not believe this. Is this true?”.

I remember quite clearly a woman who turned up in my office in Auckland one day bearing an affidavit about how she was frightened of her ex-husband, how she needed these protection orders, and everything else, and how she needed to stay in the house. I just said: “Is this true?”. She said: “No.” So I asked her why she had the affidavit. She said she had been told that if she did not say this, then she would not be able to get him kicked out of the house.

Frankly, that is illegal activity. That woman was prepared to perjure herself, and it was not that the lawyer had told her to say that. It was her friend who had told her to say that. Her friend had obviously been party to a particularly bitter matrimonial dispute and was full of brilliant advice. The brilliant advice could have landed that woman on a perjury charge.

But we know, those of us who have practised in this area, that there would have been an absolutely zero likelihood of that ever happening, because once the allegation of domestic violence had been made against the husband he would be tarred with that brush for ever. In fact, maybe that is what has to happen, but it seems to me that there can be, in fact, and often is, an abuse of that court process.

According to Ron Marks (NZ First), the efforts of the Men’s Movement are having an impact:

I do not think there is a member of Parliament who has been in this House for more than two terms who has not had representations before them from disaffected parties to Family Court hearings. Of course, we are all very familiar with many of the pleas of certain men’s organisations and lobby groups against the unfairness of the process, the disadvantage of the privacy or closed nature of the Family Court, and how their proceedings are dealt with.

When Parliament resumed on 4th September NANDOR TANCZOS (Green) raised what will probably be the key issue in my opinion; whether there will be enough funding to ensure effective mediation services of a proper standard can be delivered rapidly throughout the country.

The other issue I will mention is around non-judge-led mediation. Again, that view is something that the Green Party supports. We are very strongly supportive of less formal ways of resolving people’s disputes and issues. We believe that ordinary people have a real ability to work out the best solutions for themselves, given a little bit of help in terms of a good, proper process that can help to facilitate these kind of solutions. We are very supportive of that. Of course, we are well aware that the successful implementation of mediation relies on adequate funding.

I did a quick search on both pages of the debate, to find that only one MP mentioned the word “father”. JUDY TURNER (Deputy Leader–United Future) raises the fundamental flaw in the the way NZ manages domestic disputes – the Family Court operates in a moral vacuum. This is not addressed by this Bill. As Turner points out:

The court is simply directed to act in the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Although this is a noble guide, it effectively leaves total control of families’ future make-up to the whim of an individual judge.

Turner also raises the important issue of DNA Testing:

In the Law Commission’s paper on legal parentage it recommended that judges be able to order that a DNA test be done when it is in the best interests of a child for this to be determined. The test would not be something that the father could sneak around behind the mother’s back and get done; it would be in an open and transparent way. Where paternity is contested, surely the Family Court should be able to get this very simple procedure done. In this day and age it is not even an invasive procedure. A buccal swab from a child’s mouth is all that is required to determine whether the father is the father.

As a father cannot even begin the process of applying for contact with his child until he has determined that he is the father, it seems archaic that the Family Court cannot order this procedure done. I am disappointed that the Minister for Courts has turned down this chance to include what is an already drafted provision.

18 Responses to “Any Submissions on the Family Courts Matters Bill”

  1. Alastair says:

    Let alone buck the draconian CS system. Overseas experience indicates around 15% of men are wrongly regarded as fathering a particular child. Let me be very clear, I do NOT believe that this is a deliberate act in all cases. It is possible to be inadvertant.

  2. Alastair says:

    Again, when we get paternity wron it can distort long term research in to hereditary paterns of illness, ramifications for children can be vast, in regard to inheritance

  3. julie says:

    Is there any format on how one can write a submission? I am a first timer. lol

  4. Alastair says:

    As far as I am aware Julie NO. Give your local (Tame) MP’s office a ring they will help you. they may even present it for you as a constituent, They should be be ally. You may have 2 MP’s, (Office and home) use the better.

  5. JohnP says:

    Julie asks:

    Is there any format on how one can write a submission?

    Here are the official instructions [177 Kb pdf]

    You could also have a look at the submissions made by Menscentre North Shore for further inspiration.

  6. Scrap_The_CSA says:

    Yes Julie there is a correct format for submissions .

    As to submissions – I dont think the Social Services Select committe is reciving them yet?

    They are not mentioned in the submissions called for part of the Clerks webpage!

    Regards

    Scrap

  7. julie says:

    Thanx JohnP and Scrap. I think you may have been commenting at the same time but these links are definitely going to be helpful. It looks like you have taught a few others too.

  8. Benjamin Easton says:

    My info says,

    Comments/responses due to SSSC by 29 Oct.

    Advice too from the source is to look for an increase in administration and greater power to registrars: and increase in access to the Courts for grandparents. I agree with John through Nandor on the absense of comment on social development investments, the necessity of non arbitration expansion programmes and the naked absense in language that promotes the father into the necessities: which, of course, is logical because the notation of a father increases in competition for equality against the rights of homosexual and single women not to be discriminated against: having babies without those dads.

    This legislation will go through in some form and no matter that form, where the CS Act has been checked through, CYFS is undergoing review and in general every other political institution in New Zealand is having its washing relaundered and ironed to Bills.

    If the date is the 29th and Scrap is right it isn’t up on the website, there si some form of urgency for those who would complain about provisions in the Family Court to focus themselves onto what is being written and changed.

    I’ve had a chat with Wayne Fergussen and we will probably consider a protest if that is the general reflection of dissatisfaction, but that’s up to the general response I suppose? Anyone supporting a protest if it is necessary can contact me off line fatherscoalition1@yahoo.co.nz

    Noelle’s Court case has just turned up trumps on a practice issue of the Courts and in many ways if effective, which I am certain it will turn out so to be, some of the provisions on jurisdiction and violent behaviour in families will undercut applications to empower any complacency of the bureaucracy to transfer the most skilled professionals away from the points in conflict to where the demand for their experience is greatest. We will know well before the 29th – so it will be most interesting to compare the provisions in the Bill to those bastions that may be shaken by the results from her case.

    Benjamin.

  9. dad4justice says:

    I will present a submission highlighting injustice and the drastic affects of parental alienation syndrome .If I don’t get a commission of inquiry into my case I am going to sue many professionals for malfeasance and criminal negligence !!

  10. Dave says:

    A waste of time. It doesn’t make it more open than the CoC Act already is. It doesn’t require statistics to be kept or anything meaningful to change.

    The fact that the CoC is being tinkered with already over something the CoC was supposed to address simply demonstrates that this approach is not working.

  11. dad4justice says:

    Yes Dave , you are so right, why bother as nothing will change under Labour in power and I doubt the National Party will be any more sympathetic to our cause ?

  12. Benjamin Easton says:

    So those two submissions should be the submissions and are perfectly in order for the select committee to receive.

    We, as a group need to define and identify the problem, not spend our valuable time on what the new CoC and its quickly balancing language suggests that the problem should be.

    Most respectfully,
    Benjamin Easton,
    (of a) fathers’ coalition.

  13. MurrayBacon says:

    Here is the submission on the Family Court Matters bill that I couriered to Wellington this afternoon.

    Please send feedback to me, especially if you consider that I have made any mistakes.

    If you want to give this submission support, you can write to the Social Services Committee and lend your support.

    Best of all, send in your own submission – before 29th October.
    Cheers, MurrayBacon

  14. MurrayBacon says:

    Kay Skelton has started her High Caught trial for child abduction.
    It is astonishing that she is being prosecuted for within-NZ child abduction, when over 500 international abductors have been ignored by the familycaught, in the last 15 years.
    >
    How can the familycaught keep a straight face, when prosecuting her for child abduction, when they have failed or refused to prosecute over 500 international abductors!!??
    >
    Dr. Bob Moody compared the High Court to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!!!
    >
    I warn people who are about to be forced to deal with the familycaught, “don’t take familycaught seriously!, as if you do, it can seriously damage your life.
    You must accept that dealing with familycaught is just a casual gamble, where you accept that the caught findings could be anything at all!!??
    If you take for granted a common sense or wise outcome, then you are setting yourself up to be hurt or driven insane.”
    “But these are my children”, they say. “I know”, “sayeth I. “I hate to say this to you, but I have observed that the people who are most hurt by familycaught, are those who approach it in good faith and trust of its wisdom and integrity. People who approach familycaught, like a missile with the guidance system turned off and a crude sense of humour, at least protect themselves from the wacky outcomes of this familycaught, that wants people to take it seriously, so it can damage them. Gowns are better than wisdom. Gravitas or gravy-train?”.
    >
    Anyway, Youtube has two videos, discussing men’s anguish at abduction of their children and discussing familycaught being far less than honest with fathers, about risks of child abduction:
    >
    Fathers Anguish at child abduction:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2mphMuHkE8
    >
    Hiding child abduction statistics from fathers:
    Lets prosecute child abductors
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHlZ8jtPfqw
    >
    Please return any feedback to murray_bacon@clear.net.nz
    These videos will be tidied up in about 2 weeks, so your comments would be much appreciated.
    >
    Please EMAIL these links to people who are subject to the risks of having their children abducted. Please also send them copies of the book “Taken in Contempt”, by Robin Bowles, about child abductions out of Australia and also NZ’s statistics about Hague Convention applications.
    >
    Best regards, MurrayBacon.

  15. Benjamin Easton says:

    I’m interested to read Murray that there are over 500 child abductions. How is the term abducted defined, and do these parents from whom thier children have been abducted pay cild support? Paul Catton’s efforts in this are valuable. If the abductions are considered by the iRD as such then the IRD would not only have to stop taking child support but also repay the money taken as it would be criminal gains. I am not sure if it would be up to someone like Paul to point teh finger at these points or if the IRD wold do it off their own discretion. Once Paul’s case is over, and if someone knows the answer to these last questions, if noone else would champion these questions then I supopse I will. Someone has to.

    It was a pity not to catch up with you in your filming initiative of this case. I have been working on Noelle’s case. Other than only two very brief hearing’s in my own circumances this is the only fully blown case I have worked through. The hearing is on Tuesday. We have established the plan and the events that could be criticised, that I can see anyway have been isolated into applications and Memorandums. So Tuesday is a matter of putting the overall puzzle to the Court being forced as one is always to do this under the restrictions and for the resources that the Court set and allow.

    So far the Registrar has acted in complete incompetence and this cannot be refuted. Additionally it has occured with disturbing regularity. Three, possibly four lawyers behaviour can be categorised into patterns of institutional greed and in the case of one the hand of corruption is a loaded possibility.

    To concur with your statements from this position I will have to see that teh behaviour of any judge is open for criticism. In one case so far there is an open statement on the behaviours of the Court and judges. This statement requires the judgement to be complete against the court evidence and responsibilities before the test could declare that there is an issue of judicial conduct.

    For your comments to hold determinable validity the behavoiurs you criticise have to be consistent on an issue of conduct. Otherwise the judges are exonerated to the principle of justice within human weakness, whatever that maxim may be. To err is human to appeal the cure.

    The second act of possible judicial error, in Noelle’s case, is in fact the causal condition of where the case sits at the moment. I have submitted an interlocutory application seeking an Order to remove doubt. And there is doubt. This point is most interesting and it will focus the position of the courts in regards to the role of Mc Kenzie friends as against other methods of advocacy. The Court must decide on how they view their importance to adjudicate as against (and few reasonably, should be able to pick up what I mean here) the social conditions setting the principles of the Court’s role. This after all from my perspective of advocacy in a fathers coalition is a primary purpose. That is to disestablish arbitration confininf first the social condition to the practical jurisdiction.

    Obviously this language trumps the lawyers. And rather than taking the time to sit down and figure out what I have done and what it can mean, the “system of progress” (and not quite yet specifically identifiable to any one act by any judge) has been directly or indirectly employed to subvert the impact of that qualifiable lack of knowledge.

    I apologise above 1: for my lack of experience to use the legal terms to define the concepts and 2: for any clumsiness in describing what I mean even though the broader points will in teh end be quite clear.

    So in ordinary terms without jeopordising or compromising the Family Courts’ necessities for provisions of privacy, the administrative staff have made horrendous and expensive mistakes, the lawyers in part are incompetent, greedy or corrupt and the real point that you demonstrate no confidence is open for exposure yet hasn’t yet classified clearly any judicial behaviour that is legally consistent to concur with what you have said. If that helps.

    If in saying this there is a warning on where you are at with your criticism I think it should be heeded. You can only make those comments as you have made them if there is a conduct issue that can be isolated and proved. Get that and you get teh bad behaviour and its corruptions.

    Mitigating your comments and advancing your defence to make those comments what the judges rule, is always as complex, if not more complex that what I have just told you without breaking the law as I am aware it can be read. If a person does not understand what the judge says and the judge puts that person into a condition of having faulted propriety then that person reasoably would complain.

    This is the problem of the courts. It is the ability or inability to wholly or not to wholly communicate a decision. After a while of stealing children using practices rather than social conditions to overarch the problems it is hardly suprising that the general public can become volotile. Judge Boshier’s decision to date to overcome this problem has been to continue to rustle up his feathers, rather than fully embracing the argument I have practically introduced into Noelle’s case.

    So to condense this: The first question is, will they let me advocate for Noelle as guardian ad litem (her effective advocate better to demonstrate in capacity to wholly communicate decisions)? The second: Is will they accept that the jurisdiction of domestic violence overrides the jurisdiction of property settlement. And the third: is will they consider the extraordinary instruments that have been legally introduced to streamline the circumstnaces to meet with the purpose of the Court.

    So after Tuesday there will be three options defined. 1: Protest, 2: legal progress or 3: final settlement in progrss.

    I’ll let you know. Sorry about the detail.

  16. Benjamin Easton says:

    I’m now constrained to McKenzie friend heading into today’s case. I can take a couple of hours sleep now that the plan is set, the printing out complete and the arguments concretised to place.

    There is one overarching principle to be established before the next stage can be entered no matter any end for the above three determining jurisdictions. It’s a good question to be asking.

    “Is domestic violence repugnant to justice”?

    Watch this space.

  17. Benjamin Easton says:

    A principal issue in judicial constitution is now in state for direct engagement by a Family Court.

    A capacity of practice by demonstration in natural justice has been exposed to a test, as yet immature.

    Suprisingly under such test the emphasis is with that test as against, as custom if not unprecedented, the demonstrable power bound to its direction – although as orchestrator of that test, any arbitary range against its affect is still confined to the capacity of its own arbitration, if not and where not considered for the conditions of that test.

    That was for the bench.

    The problem I have to consider here where there is limited time to file further information to the Court is: how and if to offer any delinquent adminstration of justice reasonable grounds to repair where through from a starved access to reasonable and direct challenges on issues of authority (those debating the self regulatory responsibilities) it appears as fairly anorexic.

    So this adds up to what family law plans to eat from here to survive. The mirror (if) to be placed before the Court by the test isn’t one that tells the emporer he is wearing a fine suit, nor another that falsely proves adequate fat. It is glass with a painted back.

    The finest point of all came from Judge Fraser to me and was quite poignant. “You can say respect as much as you like, but don’t talk over me again”. It was the equivalent of gown and wig, tossed off once yet possibly now in state to redress. As I later commented, I have no problems with respect at all. It has to be earned. So far so good. Yet if the test applied is passed then what would it matter what the Court is wearing?

    So at this stage that’s about the limit of what I want to report. It feels, at least like a mark of confidence on the perspective of a father’s coalition.

    There is a lot of work to be done and one of the principal three questions to be determined is set to be cornered and answered within 14 days. The bonus, as well as it’s possible burden to any result is the enviable for some and unenviable for others, candid right of choice.

    Noelle is in fine form and our stratergy in compassing the possibilities at today’s stage when actioned at her prerogative was done with direct precision and honest finesse.

    Some family, Allan and Rosina Radford and Wayne Fergussen were in support at Court. Healthy discussions are in place for the next stage and the primary resources of the menz movement againn are up for auction in the Court proceedings. Allan can give me some case law and I’ll be asking for some other help as well – off line. Protest was prepared to be engaged and Allan and Rosina had made up some mighty fine and vivavacious props. Although welcomingly as Wayne expressed after a quick debrief, not having to protest was the primary relief for us all.

    More later.
    Cheers,

  18. Robyn says:

    what can be done about the lawyer for child, he wrote,,”you should accept whatever the moc offers as she will look better in court than you”,,,he has not endorsed what the child wants, in fact has said the opposite of what the child wants,,and continues to encourage the mother to breach court orders,,,,a complaint has been made to a Judge who took the complaint of the file and refused to acknowledge the complaint.the lawyer for child has been instrumental in keeping this case in the family courts for 10 years, and advocates to the judge that the father should not represent himself,,,has claimed money for helping both sides,,when asked by father to help his written reply said,,”I can not help even if I wanted to” this man is a menance, he emails the child, sends it to the moc who does not pass it on so the child 14 years does not know why he does not see his father apart from what moc says, which is not pleasant

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