The New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP) has welcomed the review of the Family Court system announced by Justice Minister Andrew Little.
The review comes after NZAP expressed their concerns about the distress caused to both parents and children due to court delays and custody disputes that end in alienation.
“For children the resulting stresses can be a life changer,” says Lynne Holdem, a spokesperson for NZAP.
“Conflicts and emotional difficulties resulting from parental alienation or as a response to ‘stressed out caregivers,’ often lead to difficulty focusing at school, behavioural difficulties and later mental health difficulties."
NZAP says that around six to eight sessions of couple counselling can de-escalate high emotions between couples around their children. Those adults who go through it often avoided any court appearances.
“The current removal of counselling and the imposition of charges for mediation have driven families away or led to clogged courts with long delays and harmful power struggles over children,” says Holdem.
NZAP strongly urges the review panel to consider the re-establishment of free counselling for couples considering separation.