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Family court revamp….

Filed under: General — nzleagle @ 10:12 pm Sat 12th April 2014

As many of you would of heard, there is a new system now in place for Family court cases, focusing on Parents working together to get a solution, using the family court as a last resort.

I have been out of the court process for about 3 years now, and back in February I started looking into the least confrontational way of getting my parenting order back on track. Proposed an arrangement with my ex, which she said no way to, but said that I could see my boy when ever I am in town (He lives in Manawatu, Im in Auckland) It started off ok, with her letting me see him when I was in town, but quickly went downhill as everything else does. In the time that it took, the new system had kicked in.

The 3 years I was in court between 2007 and end of 2010, I was self represented, but when I started looking into the new system I couldn’t make any sense of it, there was nothing I could see that compelled my ex to take part, not to mention the hoops that you have to jump though to now get in front of a judge if they don’t take part. I found out that I was “Funded” so I booked time with a lawyer to find out how the new system works.

As it turns out I was the first client for the firm under the new system. Pretty much from the 2 hours I spent there (was supposed to be a 1 hour appointment but they were trying to work out what forms I needed to fill out so they could get paid.) I just confirmed what I understood from the website.

Brief overview of New System (To my understanding)

Separation/Disagreement about care of children – Both Parents take part in a Parenting though separation seminar (includes existing cases if the seminar has not been done in the past 24 months) This seminar is either 2 X 2 Hour sessions, or 1 x 4 hour session. The only sessions I have been able to find are during business hours, or Saturday mornings. So if there is only one provide in your area, it could take a number of weeks for both parties to take part as you can not take part together. The Seminar is supposed to teach you how to work together to take into account what is best for the child to reach an agreement on care of the child. However there is nothing that can force the other party from taking part. (But the court will not accept an application for a parenting order until you have a certificate saying you have attended, and taken part in Family dispute resolution Mediation.

After taking part in the seminar you should have the tools to be able to reach an agreement between yourselves, if you can’t, then you can take part in Family Dispute Resolution Mediation. Which is basicly a Mediation without Lawyers. If you earn more than $51,000/year expect to pay around $450 for this service. This is a two part process, the mediator will meet with each of you alone, and discuss your issues so they know what to focus on at the conference. Again there is nothing that can force the other party from taking part, if anything if they don;t take part, it will get you into court faster.

If you are unable to reach agreement, or only reach partial agreement at the mediation, the issues that can not be agreed upon are put in front of a judge, who will normally recommend a judicial issues conference, basicly a mediation with no lawyers, with a judge as a mediator. The judge can only approve a consent order at this stage. If there is still not agreement, Then the file is back into the traditional family court system well all know well…

At any time in the process above both parties can seek Legal advice (If you are earning under 51k then you can get legal advice for free) but a lawyer is not able to represent you, file documents for you etc unless Domestic Violence, Sexual abuse, or other high risk items are mentioned. If DV or SA are mentioned, then the file gets fast tracked into the traditional system.

I love the idea that there are no lawyers involved, but I can see it just been more hoops to jump though, and end of the day probably 90% of the cases that would of got into the traditional system, will still get there.

As I go though the programs I will endeavour to keep people updated with how it is working.


  1. Just been looking for more Parenting though separation courses, (In Auckland) The Family justice website says it found 58 Providers, but when you look at it, there is actually only 8, they just have a couple of locations each. 4 of them provide their schedule on-line, Only one of those provide Evening Seminars, but they are held bi-monthly, and the 2 seminars are a week apart. The next one available is the 14th of May, and 21st May.

    Comment by nzleagle — Sat 12th April 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  2. The feminist lobby will be pushing for a change of definition for domestic violence to get cases back into court. They won’t like the idea of women having to negotiate; they expect to be in control of the situation.

    What about one party moving location, surely that is still able to go straight to court for a non removal order?

    Then perhaps you go back to the start of the new process?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 13th April 2014 @ 9:37 am

  3. Domestic Violence (doh-mess-tick vi-oh-lense)[adjective] DV [abr]: Any action, statement or thought (real or imagined) that any man commits, at any time present or past, towards any woman whether personally present or not, that such woman chooses to perceive as an action, statement etc et al, against her, and therefore forms a basis on which said woman chooses to take grievance upon towards said man.
    The legal definition of domestic violence must not be legalistically restricted to either a set of actions or tests, as such a set must be free to continually evolve to automatically incorporate any new actions and tests as will invariably occur when and as they are thought of.

    Comment by OMG You're *&^$*% — Sun 13th April 2014 @ 11:19 am

  4. So nothing has really changed except it will now take longer. Oh and more incentive for women to falsely claim abuse!

    Comment by Scott B — Mon 14th April 2014 @ 9:31 am

  5. Time will tell how these changes bed in. Frankly I am not optimistic that they offer improvements for anyone. For simple cases that used to settle at counselling they offer more security of result but that was not where the delay or expense was anyway.
    Some of these changes men have been asking for for years.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Mon 14th April 2014 @ 12:13 pm

  6. Removal of the Bristol clauses can only be positive. The rest, who knows? As Scott B notes there will definitely be more incentive now for parties to falsely allege abuse because that will fast track them into FC without costing them. Lawyers will no doubt redouble their efforts to subtly suggest that if anything happened that could be construed as ‘abuse’ then that will be advantageous. The changes would have been much more positive had they included more consequences, and more likely consequences, for perjury. But no such thing of course. The Family Court welcomes lies.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Mon 14th April 2014 @ 5:39 pm

  7. Dear Man X Norton, is there no limit to how low lawyers can sink?

    If Judith Collins wanted the familycaught$ to behave differently, she would have had to set up a Commission of Inquiry, to enforce that new legislation would be acted upon in familycaught$. She hasn’t, so it appears the issue is only about cost control.

    Cost control of familycaught$ is important, but nowhere near as important, as protecting the quality of children’s upbringing and forcing constructive, cooperating separations.

    I think she just wants to make a name in history as a caught$ reformer and doesn’t really care whether caught$ serve NZ’s interests or not. In my opinion, unless she pulls a few rabbits out of hats, she will be remembered as a big noise, that was equally ineffective as all of the earlier Ministers of Justice. (The Yes Minister TV programme nicely illustrates how hard it is for Ministers to force changes through the Civil Service. The judges are harder nuts to crack than civil servants. If Government says something the judges don’t want to hear, they close their ears and eyes, wait three years until there is a new Government. It has always worked in the past, so why won’t it work now?)

    I recall hearing about how impoverished workmen were treated in the depression. At work camps, the supervisor would select the slowest team or two of workers and they would be sent home for good on the Friday. New recruitment kept a continuous flow of hungry new workers.

    This is the only way that I can see the Government could reform the arrogance, the out of control judicial activism, narcissism and the self serving elements in the judiciary. Have the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, or better still someone with sufficient legal competence, report on the quality of all judges work, through the last fortnight and mince the poorest performers each fortnight Friday until the numbers were right. There are quite a few to be chewed through.

    Reforms in familycaught$ have only ever worked, when they put extra money into the judiciary or into lawyers pockets. All other reforms have stalled into just added cost and no benefits for anyone but those who work in the system.

    If the Government lacks resolve to tackle judges, then perhaps a few unsatisfied parents might raise the ante by [suggestion removed by moderator; promoting illegal activities is not permitted on MENZ] several surplus judges. Short of this, the familycaught$ will continue bleeding the host country, until it says “no more”.

    Comment by Murray Bacon — Mon 14th April 2014 @ 7:19 pm

  8. 6 yep and again we’ll hear that domestic violence is up again, therefore they will introduce more draconian laws and then the cycle will repeat endlessly.

    Yes consequences would be a great first step but that won’t happen anytime soon.

    Comment by Scott B — Tue 15th April 2014 @ 10:13 am

  9. Where do you get free legal advise from?

    Comment by gary — Sat 26th April 2014 @ 5:58 pm

  10. Gary # 9

    On what subject? If on Family Law matters (Custody/Care or Child Support) you won’t get any! Citizens Advice won’t touch it and neither will the local “Legal Advice Centres” or whatever they call themselves now. You can get advice on Family matters from correspondents here or Union Of Fathers etc. all of whom have been through or are going through the process so can pass on their experiences/knowledge.
    The chances of finding a blood sucking lawyer to to do Pro Bono or free advice work is virtually slim to nil.
    Put your problem here and see what comes up. Good luck. You will need it!!!

    Comment by Non Custodial Dad — Sat 26th April 2014 @ 7:17 pm

  11. Gary,
    I suggest you don’t post personal stuff here, (general non-identifying stuff is OK).
    There is details of contacts at the top right of this site “Support for men”.
    my e-mail is [email protected]

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sat 26th April 2014 @ 10:50 pm

  12. Gary,(and for others)

    Besides lawyers generally giving half an hour of their time for free when they first meet you, there are ‘Community Lawyers‘ in the community. You can phone your local CAB (Community advise bureau) in you area to get their details if you can’t find them online.

    This is besides the wealth of knowledge you get from a group of men with experience on men’s sites and when attending men’s groups. 🙂

    Comment by Julie — Sat 26th April 2014 @ 11:20 pm

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