The New Zealand Family Court is at least 8 years behind Australia and this gap is growing.
Have a read of this article from the Sydney Morning Heard published in Oct 1996.
Since then these changes and also changes to Child Support have been made in Australia. The judiciary are only slowly changing but they are changing. It is harder for mothers to relocate, more shared parenting decisions are being made and there is a much more equitable child support scheme.
There remains very strong opposition to these changes in Australia – particularly from within the divorce industry and feminist groups. They are fighting back but most likely they are fighting against the tide. Over the next 10 years more and more fathers will remain part of their children’s lives in Australia.
The New Zealand Family Court by comparison is woefully backward in it’s thinking. The general environment in the wider community is still strongly feminist and there is no acknowledgement of the widespread social dysfunction this is having on Kiwi children and their fathers.
One of the most concerning aspects of the NZ Family court is the refusal to admit anything is wrong or any mistakes have been made in the past. This is deeply troubling because an institution that lacks the integrity to identify mistakes also lacks the ability to learn from those mistakes. In fact judges and lawyers base all their actions on precedents. In other words the vast majority of the time they repeat the mistakes they made before rather than learning from the negative outcomes those mistakes created.
There is no attempt to fins out the consequences of the Courts decisions.
For example the NZ Family Court is trying to convince people it is addressing the problem of how long it takes to get a decision on custody. Yet it never acknowledges why this is a problem. What difference does it make how long things take? The Court doesn’t want to discuss this because it will open up a Pandora’s box of failings of the court and it’s process.
For example as far as I am aware there is never any formal segregation of the conflict that the family court lawyers have generated themselves. This is a fundamental failing of the NZ family courts. So called “conflict” is used to prevent the father caring for his children. Hence all a lawyer for the mother has to do is ferment and maintain conflict for the client. Job done. Yet there is no part of the process that addresses this strategy. It is a no brainier to fix. All the court needs to do is create a directive that conflict needs to be shown to exist separate to proceedings and separate to any correspondence from lawyers.
By failing to acknowledge what the issues are – even when they are blindingly obvious – the NZ Family Court will never be able to improve itself in any substantive way. An outside body is required to monitor and improve the process based on positive long term outcomes for children.
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.
Henry VI (Part 2), (Act IV, Scene II).