Guardianship Act Review

Discriminatory laws disadvantage parents and children A public policy analyst from Massey University, Stuart Birks, says the non-custodial parent in separated families is disallowed fair and equal access to their child under current family law. Mr Birks has just issued research showing that a broad ranging Government review into guardianship, custody and access in separated families has failed to acknowledge the in-depth and reasoned concerns of the public. The government may think this problem can be "brushed under the carpet" but there is growing public realisation that current policies are hostile to families and family relationships. Fairer access laws need to be drawn up, Mr Birks says. "If male role models are important then they need to be supported by the law." Massey News (link) 23rd July 2002.

Summary Analysis Of Submissions In Response To The Discussion Paper Responsibilities For Children: Especially When Parents Part: The Laws About Guardianship, Custody And Access. (link) October 2001.

Guardianship Act Review Update The discussion document "Responsibilities for Children especially when Parents Part. The Laws about Guardianship, Custody and Access" was released in August 2000. When submissions closed on 30 November 2000, there were 376 submissions received from a wide range of individuals, community groups, interest groups, professionals, academics and government agencies. (more) May 2001.

Government’s Discussion Paper on Parenting Disappoints The Government released its discussion paper on the revision of the Guardianship Act today at the Beehive. “The discussion document is a sad disappointment because it does not provide the New Zealand public with an objective debate on the issues,” says Darryl Ward, spokesperson for Families Apart Require Equality. (more) New Zealand's guardianship law was passed over 30 years ago and it is now widely acknowledged that it no longer meets the needs of modern families. "The discussion paper looks at the Government’s goals for family policy. It raises a number of questions on what we would like from our law on guardianship, custody and access for our children and young people. As well, people are invited to express their views on the functioning of the family court. The Government wants to ensure that there is no unjustified impediment to continuing active family involvement by fathers and the extended family." Full press release: (link) Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson said: "I can tell you that the government does not have a set policy designed in anticipation of the results of the discussion and consultation. There is no point in closely reading the discussion paper to glean elements of an as-yet-unstated policy. It is a discussion paper, pure and simple, which begins a long process." (link) Steve Maharey said: "There needs to be greater emphasis placed on parent’s responsibilities to their children. A parent’s responsibility should never end simply because they do not live full-time with their child. This is a particularly important message for fathers of children from broken relationships. Children need the support and love of both their father and their mother and the law should ensure that this is possible unless there are compelling reasons otherwise. Government wants to achieve this through promoting parental responsibility, positive parenting and increasing parenting skills, supporting relationships, and acknowledging the importance of cultural values, attitudes and practices." (link) National's Justice spokesman Tony Ryall today said the review of guardianship, custody and access laws must be more than just a few wording changes. "Professor Wilson must listen to submissions on the review this time. I only hope she does a better job of this than she has with her changes to Matrimonial Property legislation. It is ironic that Professor Wilson is keen to talk about the effect guardianship laws have on families and children when she is turning a blind eye to the effect her matrimonial property legislation will have on the same group of people. The changes the Government is making to matrimonial property legislation will see the majority of relationship breakups come before the courts - that's what family lawyers are telling the select committee." (link) Guardianship laws are outdated and need to better reflect modern families, Green MP Sue Kedgley said today. "It's time we got rid of out-dated terminology such as custody and custodial parent - which treats children like a piece of property," she said. "We need to look at ways of ensuring that ordinary non-violent parents can have frequent and continuing contact with their children."(link) 15th August.

Separated Fathers Support Trust has been advised that the Social Services Select Committee will hear submissions following Parliament accepting our petition for change to family law. Submissions will be taken at the same time for Bruce Cheriton's Shared Parenting Bill. This is the time to stand up and be counted. Those who can assist please get in touch urgently. (more) 22nd June.


Action Information:

Shared Parenting Campaign info: (here)

Join the very active NZ Fathers' Voter Lobby e-mail list for news and discussion (link)

Join Paul's News e-mail list. You are welcome to post your own messages to this list on any matters relating to family issues - whether that be on political issues, seeking personal advice from others on the list or to offer your own advice for others' benefit, etc.(link).

The discussion document 'Responsibilities for Children: Especially When Parents Part'  has been published on the Ministry of Justice website at Public responses are invited by the end of November and should be sent to the Ministry of Justice, PO Box 180, Wellington, or can be e-mailed to [email protected]

Men's Centre North Shore submission (25 KB pdf)

E-mail Members of Parliament - addresses (link).

MENZ Issues articles on Family Court (here).

Muriel Newman's Shared Parenting Bill is (here).



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