New Zealand Law Society - Consultation on family justice system begins

Consultation on family justice system begins

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The Independent Panel appointed to consult on the 2014 family justice system reforms and to report with recommendations to the Minister of Justice by the end of May 2019 has begun public consultation.

The Panel has set an eight week period for public submissions, beginning 5 September and closing at 5pm on 9 November 2018.

To assist with the consultation process, the Panel has released a consultation document, Have Your Say on the family justice system.

An overview on the Ministry of Justice website pages for the public consultation says it has the objective of hearing how the 2014 changes to the family justice system have affected people and their family. "Your feedback will help the Independent Panel understand how the system is working for children, parents, guardians, family and whānau."

Submissions may be made with an online tool. The ministry has also provided a Background Paper: Overview of the 2014 Family Justice Reforms.

The Independent Panel leading the review consists of former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan as chair, Kaitaia family lawyer La Verne King and Wellington family lawyer Chris Dellabarca.

The terms of reference state that the panel is to consider the 2014 reforms as they relate to assisting parents/guardians to decide or resolve disputes about parenting arrangements or guardianship matters in a number of areas.

The panel is supported by an Expert Reference Group. Mr Little says this group will also play an important role, giving panel members access to people with expertise across a range of disciplines, including law, mediation, child psychology, kaupapa Māori and family violence to ensure its findings reflect current research and best practice.

The 11-member Expert Reference Group comprises Professor Bill Atkin and Associate Professor Nicola Taylor (family law academics and researchers), Associate Professor Ruth Busch (retired, an expert on family violence), Catherine Cooper (General Manager of Resolution Institute NZ), Jill Goldson (family mediation specialist), Deborah Hart (Executive Director of AMINZ), Simon Jefferson QC (leading family law practitioner), Dr Jan Pryor (psychologist and academic specialising in outcomes for children after parental separation), Professor Jacinta Ruru (kaupapa Māori research expert), Kirsty Swadling (family lawyer and Chair of the Law Society’s Family Law Section), Renuka Wall (psychologist and specialist court report writer).