Family Court review overdue – counsellor

Yahoo news April 20, 2011

The Family Court system has been labelled “a fractured matrix”, with one family counsellor saying a review is overdue. Justice Minister Simon Power yesterday released the terms of reference for the review, expected to be available for public consultation in September. In addition to considering ways to encourage people to resolve relationship disputes outside court, it will look at the state’s role in the court, the purpose and functions of the court, and the role of lawyers, mediators, psychologists and social workers. Mr Power said the court’s expenditure had increased from $83.9 million in July 2005 to $137.1 million, with legal aid and family-related services among the significant drivers of costs. Steve Taylor, the director of Auckland-based counselling and mediation organisation 24-7, welcomed the review today, saying the “tattered legal jigsaw” within the court’s system was unsuitable for helping families in crisis. “The New Zealand Family Court system is a fractured matrix unfamiliar with the best practice evidence for working with families in a either a legal or best-practice context.” Mr Taylor said international research showed a number of the New Zealand processes were inefficient. In particular, he questioned the appropriateness of using the legal system to deal with most family disputes, and the role of compulsory mediation.