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Counsel to assist the court

Filed under: Law & Courts — Ken @ 9:54 am Tue 17th March 2009

Hi folks
I have noticed an increasing tendency for judges in cases in Hawkes Bay to appoint a ‘counsel to assist the court’ in FC cases where the father is self represented.
I’m just wondering if there is a trend in any other regions?
For the record they don’t seem to add much to the proceedings other than cost to the tax payer!


  1. I have noticed that Judges do this when UoF are new in an area and McKenzie Friend support is variable in quality. You are totally correct that they normally add little.
    Not a trend seen in Hamilton, Tauranga or Wellington Courts as reported to our last executive meeting.

    Comment by allan Harvey — Tue 17th March 2009 @ 10:02 am

  2. It’s a license to print money.

    Comment by Dave — Tue 17th March 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  3. Hello,

    They appointed one for me and I wish I could refuse (did not know what to do then or even if i could refuse)
    Basically he is there to assist the court to quash you.

    The judge harassed me during the hearing and did not let me ask questions to the applicant
    The judge refused me to summaries my case and the lawyer to assist remained silent
    This is the guy who would eventually say that the hearing was fear.
    This is a tactic to discourage people from representing themselves.
    He is there as well to spy on you (what ever you tell them. remember he is not your lawyer)

    So Do Represent yourself. They do not like it.

    This lawyer told me some home truths:
    1) The family court does not care what happens to your family
    2) That a man will always loose his case no matter what. Even with a lawyer.
    He cited psychological violence that is provisioned for in the law and he said this can be anything. ANything really.
    3) He does not like family court cases.

    Comment by tren Christchurch — Tue 17th March 2009 @ 6:02 pm

  4. The Family Court is evil.

    Comment by dad4justice — Tue 17th March 2009 @ 7:06 pm

  5. I have some positive experience with Counsel to Assist but it is by no means over yet. One criticism I have though is that he does seem passive – like others have commented. I think why such counsel is often appointed is in relation to court directed reports (eg: psychologists, etc). There is no way the court will give copies of these to parents who self represent so counsel to assist is appointed to give you reading access and to explain. With a psychologist’s report, never expect to get to keep a copy. The court is of the view there has been far too much abuse of these and so the days of any parent getting a copy are over. Feel free to correct me if you know of cases where the parents did get to keep a copy of a psychologist’s report.

    Often that is about all these counsel will do. However, sometimes when lawyer for child can’t also represent the child’s welfare and best interests (such in alienation cases) a counsel to assist will be appointed to represent the child’s best interest and welfare. If you have a case where you think PAS (parental alienation syndrome) exists, ask the judge to appoint counsel to assist to represent welfare and best interests of the children.

    I have more of an issue with lawyer for children than counsel to assist because lawyer for children has to represent the children’s view and you can find yourself having to respond to what are essentially childish requests because obviously they come from children. Lawyer for child is a bit too PC for me at times but does have its place. In my view this is not always balanced and in cases of PAS you may find yourself up against two lawyers not one – the ex’s lawyer and lawyer for child who is doing what the children tell her/him and who in turn are being directed by the ex.

    Lawyer to assist will be more approachable than lawyer for child so amke what benefit of that you can. If it is a PAS case don’t write off counsel to assist. If it is just a case where a psychologist or othe report is required, don’t expect too much. I am trying (but often failing) to take onboard the advice I keep getting from more experienced others – if you are a man don’t expect too much from the Family Court at all, period.

    Comment by Gerry — Wed 18th March 2009 @ 12:32 am

  6. Dear Gerry,

    I obtained both the psychologist and psychiatric report when counsel was dismissed in favour of self litigation.
    Family Court were not overly happy to release it but ultimately had to release it, perhaps mentioning application to the High Court for its release would be used, was the clincher.

    If the Family Court do not release the document unconditionally, this puts the self litigant at a great disadvantage if any of the material in the report is used to provide reasoning for judgement.

    Having a read of the report at the Court is unacceptable for Lawyers and Self Litigants.
    Careful and close analysis of these documents are required not a scant viewing.
    Hence Lawyers get a copy and thus Self Litigants should likewise.

    Failure to provide these reports give automatic rise to Judgement Appeals in the High Court.

    Kind Regards

    Paul Catton
    East Auckland Refuge for Men and Families
    (09)271 3020

    Comment by Paul Catton — Wed 18th March 2009 @ 7:55 am

  7. I did get my copy no problem at all. Memo to the judge and the court obliged.
    I wrote in the memo that I needed the copy to study and head the advice of the psychologist.

    I am in no way disgruntled with the psychologist report ( I wish it never happened)

    Gerry, it is not out of malice that we write what we think about the family court.

    The family court as it stands today is real evil. I am no religious but I can recognise one.
    It may be itself a victim of a badly thought out dva and its related laws or women against women lobbies.

    Can you believe that from a simple family dispute you can end up a jailed criminal.

    If today i write here it is because I care about the workings of the family court
    which should be just and fair. Removing a father from his children for more than 2 years
    and asking him to attend a violence course on hear say is no cure to family disputes.

    Pretending to stamp out violence to create more violence is not an exercise this country ands its people need.

    Comment by tren Christchurch — Wed 18th March 2009 @ 12:34 pm

  8. The courts make a business out of de-fathering families. Here’s a link to the bigger picture: ‘The Obama Deception’ on Utube

    Comment by Larry — Thu 19th March 2009 @ 8:09 am

  9. Just counsel Lawyer for the child but not prepared to issue interim orders.

    I firmly believe lawyers should not be part of the process when dealing with custody/access issues. I also wonder the logic of Judges being in the process given (here at least) that the same judges listen to criminal matters as well and therefore cannot have the empathy needed to find the middle ground to benefit parents and children at a speed that ensures relationships are not damaged beyond repair between children and their parents.

    If more people respresented themselves in court the legal profession would seek change as most of their family court income comes from the man. It also would highlight the need to address the imbalance in the legal aid system that most woman can exploit.

    Comment by shane — Thu 19th March 2009 @ 9:46 am

  10. tren, it is not as simple as you think. the government doesn’t care about our family disputes, it is concerned with money, it does not want to lose out so it makes the man stay working and paying child support. it is all about money, that is why they have to have secrecy in the family courts

    the state comes down hard on any man in a family dispute to keep him working, and uses it’s workers to wheedle a legal result

    Comment by OnceInALifeTime — Thu 19th March 2009 @ 11:53 am

  11. I got all copies of the psycho reports when I did my own appeal. I had a lawyer in the original hearing but ended up doing the appeal in the High Court myself. It was a few years back so I forget the detail. I think I was given the full file from my original lawyer which of course had the psycho reports in it. There was another report ordered by the High Court so of course I got a copy of that. There was never any question about giving me a copy of it. In the High Court I went to the registrar at one point and asked to see the file. I had a good look through it and photo copied some things I was missing. This is standard practice at the High Court.

    I certainly would not agree to being only allowed to view the report at a lawyer’s office if I was representing myself. Simply tell them you will be doing this at night and in the weekends when time permits and as relevant issues occur to you when preparing your case. You are not a lawyer experienced in preparing such things and it is totally inadequate to view the report at a lawyer or court.
    Point out that failure to provide the report would simply open any judgement to automatic appeal.Also point out that the consequences to the father for “leaking” the report are obvious and in any case the report writer should NOT be making or repeating outrageous claims in a professional report on a sensitive family matter.

    Comment by Dave — Thu 19th March 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  12. Reply #8 (Larry): I tried to watch The Obama Deception but it’s long and difficult to follow. What is the point of this movie relevant to men’s issues?

    Comment by Hans Laven — Sat 21st March 2009 @ 10:29 am

  13. The youtube link in Larry’s post is related to the gender issue. The
    two hour documentary is worth watching. I downloaded it and watched it
    at my convenience. It relates to an elite group of people who apparently
    favour a divide and conquer philosophy with gender problems being traced
    back to them. If you’re paranoid you shouldn’t watch it lol. I’ve read
    posts on forums that some areas of the States have no high powered ammo
    left for sale due to some Americans stockpiling and hiding ammo. It’s
    all very interesting indeed. Thanks for the link Larry.

    Comment by SickOFnz — Sun 22nd March 2009 @ 1:52 am

  14. Thanks for that SickOFnz. I watched about a quarter of it but no mention yet relevant to gender matters, only conspiracy theories about Obama being the puppet of the same moneyed and powerful that controlled the previous president, secret meetings etc. At what stage in the movie do gender issues come up, half way, three quarters etc?

    Comment by Hans Laven — Sun 22nd March 2009 @ 10:41 am

  15. I can’t remember where I saw that part sorry…it’s two hours long. The
    group mentioned are accused of deliberately masterminding the divisions
    that exist between race, country and gender so that their master plan
    might be seen as a solution to the mess. Some are saying that these
    problems were manufactured as a distraction for the masses while their
    New World Order is introduced as a solution to it all.

    Comment by SickOFnz — Mon 23rd March 2009 @ 8:11 am

  16. I’ve got rid of my lawyer as it was pretty obvious that she was not working for the interests of me or my children. She thought it great that I have only lost 1 day a fortnight with my children after having an equal custody arrangement for 3 years. This after my ex physically attacked both me and my daughter, and mentally abused me through our marriage.
    My lawyer has refused to allow me to have copies of cyfs & psychologist reports and I’ve had a total of 1 hour to view them. I understand that the psychologist report was written with a lot of references to the cyfs report which, from what I’ve read, is someone’s idea of a bit of fiction. I only saw the cyfs report AFTER the psych report was published.

    Fortunately, I recorded my follow up meeting with CYFS and I implore everyone who deals with them to do the same. Transcript has been made of this recording.
    Anyway; I aim to get copies of those reports so I can analyse them and thus better represent myself when I go back to court later this year.
    I realize that the whole court system is biased. Right now, I have to accept that and move on otherwise I will fall into depression. Wish me luck!

    Comment by John — Thu 21st May 2009 @ 12:02 am

  17. I also had to view such reports at my solicitors office. Apparently they’re caveated by the courts so that the information can’t be used inappropriately by either party. I viewed my reports as many times as I asked my lawyer for access to them. You should also have access to them at the local court but you’re not allowed to copy or remove the report from there. That was how it was seven years ago so I don’t know what might have changed since then.

    You should ensure that your daughter is safe with you in future by applying for a Protection Order that covers her while in your care. Make sure you keep her out of the ‘adult stuff’.

    You’re smart to record everything. I stumbled more than one CYFS liar that way. They can’t argue against their own voice recording. Yeah….so they hate you for it. They punish you for daring to push back. They use our children to punish us. All the while our children notice their conduct too.

    Don’t get depressed. Ring the courts to see if there are copies of the reports you need to view. Good luck.

    Comment by SicKofNZ — Thu 21st May 2009 @ 1:05 am

  18. I have found myself in the position where i must self litigate and have found your comment to be very helpful, just coming up to a judge led mediation in the near future and i have paid my lawyer my life savings, and find that i am no further ahead than 12 months ago.

    I have found lawyer for child to be completely useless, he has seen my child only once, and will not act on her wishes, but on what he deems to be in her “best interests” as he is her representative surely he must act on her direction. I will never understand what gives him the right to decide what is in her best interests based on a 20 minute interview 11 months ago.

    Both the cyfs and psychologists reports recognise my daughter has been both physically and emotionally abused by her mother, but have found me to be wrong because i spend quality time with my daughter, doing things she enjoys and having fun and her mother won’t, apparently this has influenced my daughter’s views on which parent she wants to live with. I will never consider it wrong to love and spend time with my daughter.

    Whilst on the cyfs “bandwagon” these morons had the nerve to attempt to serve an abatement notice on me because i made numerous complaints about how my daughter was being treated, including showing them a picture of what was obviously a cigarette burn on her back, their attitude defies reason. If i was a woman i am certain cyfs would have acted.

    Comment by John — Mon 1st February 2010 @ 9:43 pm

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