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Why don’t they treat children like dogs?

Filed under: General — JohnBrett @ 9:31 am Sat 28th May 2011

Judge tells feuding couple to share custody of dogs
By Edward Gay
5:30 AM Saturday May 28, 2011


Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A prominent political figure and his ex-wife have been told they must share the custody of their two dogs after a long-running dispute in the Family Court.

Strict suppression orders surround the case, which includes an allegation of dog-napping on the street of a plush Auckland suburb in November 2010.

The ex-wife – to be referred to as D – saw her ex-husband’s new partner walking the dogs and is alleged to have unclipped one of the animals from its lead and put it in a car.

D told the court in April she told her ex’s new partner: “You have my husband, you cannot have my dogs.”

Her ex-husband – referred to as C – sought the court’s intervention.

Judge David Burns issued his reserved decision yesterday.

He said he had not been asked to make a long-term arrangement but in the short term the couple had to share the dogs.

“Neither party seems to me to have any greater claim to the dogs than the other.”

Judge Burns directed that the dog which was allegedly snatched off the street should be returned to C.

“This is to be done by [D] delivering [the dog] to the groomer which both parties use and the groomer is then to deliver the dog to [C]’s care.”

He ordered that the dog stay with D for three months to make up for the “unilateral action” of C taking it.

He said that at the end of the three months, the dogs are to be looked after by C and D on a month-by-month basis.

“The changeovers to occur through the parties’ groomer so the party who has the dog is to deliver the dog in the morning to the groomer and the groomer is then to … deliver the dog to the other party …”

Judge Burns said he found that both C and D “profess a great love for their dogs”.

At the April hearing D told the court: “My dogs are my babies.” Her ex-husband said the dogs were part of his family.

Judge Burns also noted that the dogs provided companionship to each other. “I therefore … find that the dogs should not be split.”

He ordered legal costs to “lie where they fall”. Both C and D were represented by Queen’s Counsel.
By Edward Gay | Email Edward


  1. Thanks John, this article reeks of irony and when the Family Court starts hearing cases over who gets the dogs you know it is high time for reform. Regards Jeremy H for GerryMen Group.

    Comment by GerryMen — Sat 28th May 2011 @ 10:45 am

  2. At the April hearing D (the woman involved) told the court: ‘My dogs are my babies.’

    Wow! So this woman is admitting to being a female dog? Well there is another name for that isn’t there. Guess she won’t mind being called a bitch then. lol.

    Comment by Mr. Anonymous — Sat 28th May 2011 @ 11:25 am

  3. Please respect the suppression orders with regard to identifying the subjects of this story.
    No clues. No links to previous news coverage.
    Your co-operation will be appreciated.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Sat 28th May 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  4. Thanks John- I have no knowledge beyond the newspaper article.
    BITCHES- Our vet is very covetous of an award ribbon that one of our little pets won for “BEST BITCH” – She wants it for her waiting room!
    As a dog person Miriam and I cannot see the word “BITCH” as a perjorative. I wish everyone was as loving and as loyal as our three bitches, and one genderly challenged dog!
    As dog people, we disagree with treating dogs as ‘Babies’ however- dogs need and expect you to be their master, and we have had to learn to be the master. The love and loyalty starts from this.
    The same relationship applies to ‘Public servants’- we occasionally have to remind them of the master-servant relationship that they have to us. We tend not to get their love, but certainly more obedience!

    Comment by John Brett — Sat 28th May 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  5. So was it the Guardianship Act or the Care of Children Act that enabled a Family Court judge to make an order about day to day care of dogs?
    I doubt the Relationship Property Act would provide any legal basis for such an order. Or is it just another example of the degree to which
    the legislation is so vague that it allows judges to decide almost anything they want?

    Comment by Hans Laven — Sat 28th May 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  6. Dogs receive fairer treatment in the family courts than child do!!!!!

    Comment by David Hardy — Sun 29th May 2011 @ 9:56 am

  7. How many parents have missed out on access to their real children while this couple have been wasting valuable court time, fighting it out over their dam dogs!!!!

    Comment by David Hardy — Sun 29th May 2011 @ 4:23 pm

  8. Dogs (obtained during the relationship) are relationship property. You would have to check the wording of the Relationship Property Act but I expect it probably allows property to be shared rather then divided.
    For example a judge might order that the posession of a family hierloom be shared.

    Comment by Vman — Thu 2nd June 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  9. When’s the last time you heard of a dog being circumcised? We definitely treat our dogs better than children.

    Comment by GaryB — Fri 3rd June 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  10. GaryB. Yes circumcision is an vile practice and a permanent violation of an individual. We hear lots of lies about (mainly) White men who rape women, molest their children, beat their wives etc… all lies but the few people who own the Western mainstream media would NEVER say a bad word about their own tribe, even when its true.

    Comment by Doug — Tue 7th June 2011 @ 8:01 pm

  11. Wow! I guess this doesn’t surprise me. I am glad the dogs are loved. It just seems kind of funny to be going to the judge over it. Good story.

    Comment by Gunnar — Fri 19th August 2011 @ 1:07 am

  12. Well, how many people have got a worse outcome for their children in the NZ family court than these dogs…. How many men have professed a great love for their children yet are not allowed to share in their custody nor their upbringing ?? Too bad Burns cannot be as impartial in his other decisions that really matter, as he appears to have been in this case.. seems only dogs get justice in NZ

    Comment by NZexile — Tue 3rd September 2013 @ 4:33 pm

  13. Ye Gods [dyslectic Gods] wasting QCs on bitches and dogs when so many injustices are about.
    As mentioned above the dogs get a better deal than children.

    Comment by andreas — Sun 9th March 2014 @ 7:43 pm

  14. This case was back in Court recently.
    Prominent politicians wife was objecting to the name suppression but the Court maintained its position.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 9th March 2014 @ 8:47 pm

  15. There was a news article on stuff a couple of days ago where a prominent politian had supression of his divorce – I’m assuming that would be the same fight?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 9th March 2014 @ 8:56 pm

  16. This family have been in the news (name suppressed for past 4 years).
    Unfortunately their identities are a poorly kept secret.
    It is a joke that he considers himself vulnerable.
    Today’s Herald on Sunday.
    Wife said to be devastated as political figure wins court bid for suppression
    The couple are involved in a protracted legal battle through the Family Court.
    A high-profile political figure has won the right to keep details of his divorce secret after a judge ruled he was a “vulnerable person”.
    His messy divorce case included allegations of espionage, infidelity, dognapping, theft, the involvement of three Queen’s Counsel, and a disputed allegation the man grabbed or touched his wife’s neck, tried to kick in the door of their home and shouted abuse at her.
    The couple were involved in a protracted legal battle through the Family Court. The ex-wife has sought the right to speak publicly and to her friends about the break-up, but the husband has fought to keep the dispute secret.
    The Herald on Sunday applied to the court to overturn the suppression, saying it was a matter of legitimate public interest and that the man had supported MPs who campaigned on family values.
    At a January hearing at the Auckland District Court, the man’s lawyer, Lady Deborah Chambers QC, sought confidentiality orders on the grounds that he and his wife were vulnerable people according to the law.
    Anyone who has sought a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act – even if the court refused to make the order – is defined as vulnerable. The man and his wife had each asked for protection orders against the other, at the height of their acrimonious break-up, meaning they cannot now be identified – even though the applications for protection orders were rejected.
    Judge David Burns said the man was a “robust public person” and the vulnerable person clause in the Family Courts Act was never designed to cover a person such as him.
    But the ex-wife had acted “unwisely” in speaking to the media about the case.
    “My finding that the wife is likely to distort the truth and what she says to media outlets is likely to be inaccurate or exaggerated and as a result she is going to be reported even though it has no relationship with the truth.
    “There is a serious risk that parts of the judgment could be misinterpreted or taken out of context. Also other innocent third parties referred to in the judgment could be affected.”
    The judge did not accept the Herald on Sunday’s argument that naming the couple was in the public interest.
    The husband had “acted appropriately and endeavoured to support his wife, who was clearly unwell for a long period of time before separation”, Judge Burns said.
    He added: “I do not consider he can be validly criticised, and I am concerned that sensitive material sought by the wife could be misinterpreted without the benefit of it being fully tested.
    “Accordingly I am satisfied that there is no public interest to justify publication in this particular case.”
    The former wife is understood to be devastated at the ruling as she believes her freedom of speech has been curtailed.
    – Herald on Sunday

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 9th March 2014 @ 9:08 pm

  17. I see the Herald Editorial comments pretty specifically.

    This decision returns the Family Court to the dark days when open justice was sacrificed to protect the rich and powerful.

    I wonder when there was ever “open justice” in the secret Family Court?

    one of the wealthiest men in New Zealand. He supports MPs

    So not an MP himself & one of NZ’s wealthiest and an Auckland case.
    That should be enough for most people.

    Herald on Sunday editorial: Powerful, rich – and vulnerable
    5:30 AM Sunday Mar 9, 201439 comments
    In the Family Court this week, Judge David Burns ordered that the man’s identity be indefinitely suppressed. Photo / File

    He is one of the wealthiest men in New Zealand. He supports MPs who changed the law to expressly state that a defendant’s public profile should not, of itself, be grounds for keeping his identity secret.
    And, in an acrimonious, multi-million dollar marriage break-up, this man was alleged to have grabbed or touched his wife’s neck, and admitted trying to kick in the door of their home and shouting abuse at her.
    But in the Family Court this week, Judge David Burns ordered that the man’s identity be indefinitely suppressed – that anyone who even whispers at his identity be liable to three months’ imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.
    Why? It is because his Queen’s Counsel, Lady Deborah Chambers, used a clause in the Family Courts Act to have him categorised as a “vulnerable person”, as both he and his wife had unsuccessfully sought protection orders against each other at the height of the drawn-out, torrid break-up.
    The man claimed his ex-wife was “stalking” him, and had threatened to take one of their dogs. Even the dogs have been granted name suppression, in this society drama.
    Judge Burns had previously refuted the stalking allegation as “weak”, and rejected the threat to take the dog as “out of character”, saying there was no suggestion the ex-wife was a violent person.”
    Yet, despite rejecting the man’s application for a domestic violence protection order, Judge Burns this week ruled that the mere fact the husband had asked for a protection order was enough to classify him as vulnerable and, therefore, entitle him to ongoing name suppression.
    If a person’s application for protection from domestic violence is so weak that it is refused by the court, how can that same court decide that the same application is strong enough grounds to declare one of New Zealand’s most powerful men a vulnerable person? That this man is too fragile to withstand public scrutiny of his actions, to be held to public account?
    This is a man who, by the judge’s admission, is not vulnerable in a psychological sense. “He is a public figure used to being in the media spotlight … He is a robust public person.”
    The man’s estranged wife – whose health problems might have given her a far greater claim than him on the title “vulnerable” – quite properly refused to accept that get-out-of-jail-free card.
    She took legal advice from her own QC, Grant Illingworth, and decided she wanted the freedom to speak openly to her friends and, yes, the media about her marriage and the unpleasant way in which it ended.
    “She says that this will be therapeutic for her if she can get things off her chest,” the judge found. “She considers that she is not a vulnerable person and does not seek to take advantage.”
    Queen’s Counsel Deborah Chambers is the go-to divorce lawyer of the wealthy – she has acted in splits including that of Rich Listers Ken and Robyn Millar, and Craig and Katherine Heatley.
    In this case, she has used a legal clause that will enable any person to stop their dirty linen being aired in public, by applying for a protection order, whatever the grounds.
    To her client, Chambers is worth every cent of her fee.
    The public may feel less indebted.
    This decision returns the Family Court to the dark days when open justice was sacrificed to protect the rich and powerful.
    – Herald on Sunday

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 9th March 2014 @ 9:18 pm

  18. The Herald Editorial today says this man is not an MP but he supports National Party MPs and is one of the wealthiest men in NZ.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 9th March 2014 @ 9:40 pm

  19. … and even the dogs names are included in the supression order. Sounds a bit like the war of the roses.

    Comment by Downunder — Mon 10th March 2014 @ 7:10 am

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