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Canadian Family Court Advice Comes to New Zealand

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 11:05 am Thu 23rd August 2018


Calls for reform of the family court system and the need for more resources are being backed by a prominent international expert on legal issues related to children and families in the justice system.

Professor Nicholas Bala from Canada’s Queen’s Law School says while family dispute resolution works in many cases, much better resources are needed for the most difficult ones.

He’s calling for a clearer and more effective role of Oranga Tamaraki in high conflict separations, as well as faster assessments, and more lawyers being brought in at the early stages.

An overhaul of the Family Court in 2014 put the onus on parents to resolve custody disputes, causing a dramatic increase in urgent applications. Professor Nicholas Bala’s work in this area has been cited by all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court, as well as by courts in New Zealand, America England, Singapore and Australia.

Professor Bala speaks with Lynn Freeman

Listen to Podcast

If you listen further in you’ll find a push to return to the judge-managed cases that we had 15 -20 years ago, but also a push to increase the use of psychologists and alter their complaints process.

The acknowledgement at the end; a guest of the NZ Psychological Society.


  1. Thanks to the NZ Psychological Society for bringing this guy over, it is easy to agree with most of what he talks of when discussing our family court system.

    I must say I did find it disconcerting to find that we had a different judge at every turn and that a lack of mediation flew in the face of what is supposed be a system set up for family justice…
    To have someone, a specialist in alienation, talk on such issues here is fantastic,

    Thanks for the post.

    Comment by mama — Fri 24th August 2018 @ 4:01 am

  2. This is in their own vested interests as they have for good reasons been complained out of the court.

    They wouldn’t have told him about their university wanker Fred Seymour being allowed to use court cases in something along the lines of zoo experiment.

    Comment by Evan Myers — Fri 24th August 2018 @ 7:37 am

  3. # 2, ..yes Evan it is of course in the interest of these professionals, however, this guy,
    Pr. Nicholas Bala, really has something to say here..and surely there must be a better way.

    When any one says “lets go back to the way it was before”, I listen, because to me it seems the system ( family court ) is in a frenzy and certainly feels with out good direction.

    As for the Pyschologists etc. some of these professionals are really good at what they do, and they have moral standing…ha,,maybe THEY should become judges, maybe understudy judges.

    In my recent experiences in the Family court I have found that there should be more exspeediency when there are children involved, and in our case it has lasted 3 years so far.
    The alienation factor creeps in after three years and that can be used against you, the absense.
    ..and this is where above named Professor comes in , this is his field, so he is good to listen to …somethings have to get better , for the children, but for every one, life is hard enough with out going through such trauma, it is actually absurd when I think about it.

    Comment by mama — Fri 24th August 2018 @ 2:14 pm

  4. Obviously there is a long history of discontent with psychologists.

    Putting that aside if the complaints regarding that process are in the judges hands rather than the profession association then the trade off should be openess in the court system so the media can report on the process.

    Comment by Downunder — Fri 24th August 2018 @ 6:23 pm

  5. Hey, I am sorry if stepping on old toes,, but I am rather new to this and have no history, you guys have history it seems and I want only to appreciate and learn from what has gone before.

    It would be better for everyone if mediation played a greater role from the out set, for this mediation to be the realm of the psych guys, it would surely be better than some counsellor or social worker. Communication is the key, and yes, in some cases it would have to be somewhat enforced , initial mediation to be separate of partners and at certain times if necessary.

    From myself and my families’ point of view, you have to be able to see truth in order to move forward in the best direction. Otherwise your’e f##ked from the get go.

    Comment by mama — Fri 24th August 2018 @ 7:24 pm

  6. What may be worthwhile noting is that Family Court psychologists had difficulty with the complaints process.

    They are not the only psychological practitioners governed by this process.

    Do you think their may be a problem that they are trying to skirt around through an incestuous collusion with their legal associates?

    Asking for a friend.

    Comment by Downunder — Sat 25th August 2018 @ 4:20 pm

  7. It’s totally unacceptable for judges to be ruling on complaints against psychologists. Determining whether a psychologist has met the profession’s standards, practised according to sound research and within the NZ profession’s Code of Ethics can only be done by peers from the profession. Judges will not have the knowledge and expertise to make such determinations. One may as well get a plumber to determine whether a surgeon has practised appropriately to his/her professional requirements.

    If an FC psychologist has breached the psychology Code of Ethics then the report did not reach the standard required to be a psychologist’s report and should not be accepted by the Court as such. But allowing judges to decide on complaints against psychologists enables those judges to treat unprofessional reports as if they were adequate ones. Given the gravity of the decisions being made for children’s lives, this is disgusting. One may as well allow a high rise building to be constructed on the basis of an incompetent engineer’s report.

    Comment by Ministry of Men's Affairs — Sat 25th August 2018 @ 5:24 pm

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