New Zealand Law Society - Ministry releases reviews into Family Court reforms

Ministry releases reviews into Family Court reforms

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Reports evaluating the 2014 reforms to the Family Court have been released by the Ministry of Justice.

The 2014 reforms supported out-of-court solutions such as resolution in order to reduce the impact on children, and to better utilise the Family Court by only having the most difficult cases enter the court system.

The ministry says the reports provide an analysis of user participation, engagement, and outcomes within the Family Court system.  

The released reports are:

The Administrative Review of the Family Justice System reforms paper focuses on the changes made relating to the Care of Children Act (CoCA) processes.

It concludes that there has been a reduction in volumes through the Family Court since the reforms have been in place, especially for CoCA related cases and applications, while the number of without notice (urgent) applications has greatly increased.

Among the outcomes in the paper on Family Justice reforms was that even for those with all matters resolved (65%), one quarter end up requiring court intervention.

The report into Without Notice Applications has found that: “Based on what has been said by interviewed applicants, judges, lawyers and Family Court staff, there is a perception that the Family Court is less efficient since the reforms and there is reduced access to legal advice and representation for applicants.”:

The paper on Exemptions from FDR where one party did not participate found that: 40% of people refused to engage with the FDR supplier because they simply did not want to do FDR; 23% of people did not respond to the supplier, even after multiple attempts via phone, email and letter, and cost was a factor in 14% of cases.

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