New Family Court (Supporting Children in Court) Legislation Bill – Now only one reading away from becoming law.
In a lot of cases children who want to see dad, they will have their say. That being said, lets get down to the real world. The worlds most cunning animal is the human. To head the above scenario off, a woman need only alienate the child before lawyer for child gets to interview the child.
In my view, if a child has been alienated by one parent, the child need only repeat what they hear from that parent and the other parent won’t be seeing that child anytime soon. No prize for guessing which gender does the alienation.
Where is the legislation to outlaw and call alienation violence?
The bill seeks to:
• Reinforce the expectation that a child should have reasonable opportunities to participate in decisions affecting their care and welfare.
• ensure that lawyers appointed to represent children in proceedings are suitably qualified to represent the child or young person and that they explain proceedings to their clients.
• Require lawyers to facilitate the efficient resolution of disputes in order to minimise harm to children, families, and whānau.
• Reinforce the need for the court to recognise and respond appropriately to family violence, particularly the impact it has on children.
New Zealand National Party differing view.
The National Party does not support this bill because, while improvements to children’s participation are to be welcomed, this law would see more disputes in court and a more legalistic approach involving more lawyers. As many submitters noted, this would make things worse not better for children.
In relation to child participation, we would note we heard from multiple submitters that it is not in every instance in a child’s welfare and best interests to actively participate. For example, where it involves confronting trauma or significant family acrimony it can be harmful. Additionally, over-exposure to multiple professionals and to the court case can lead to a sense of responsibility for the decisions made.
We also agree with the related concern that this bill is proceeding without the benefit of research from which to develop an evidence-based model for children’s participation and guidelines about the circumstances where children should be involved.
This leads to concerns we have about lawyers for the child, given that this bill will lead to an even more central role for them. Many submitters raised concerns about the role and lack of training and lack of skills of lawyer for child when it comes to such important matters as child development and psychology or sexual violence. We agree with this concern. Other professionals with skills and training relevant to children could do a better job out of court.
More court process and lawyers are not the answer. Finally, in support of our view we point to the international practices we were made aware of during the select committee process. With this law, New Zealand will see more cases in court with more primacy provided to lawyers than in any of the several comparable jurisdictions we looked at. Almost invariably these jurisdictions use other professionals such as psychologists or social workers more than they do lawyers with variable training and knowledge of dealing with children.