New Zealand Law Society - Important conference for family lawyers

Important conference for family lawyers

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Family lawyers should seriously consider attending a cutting edge conference next month. Adoption with an international flavour, often involving a surrogacy arrangement, is becoming more and more commonplace. Any family lawyer, anywhere in the country, is likely to be required to advise a client on what can be a complex area of the law and this conference will highlight the issues and give practical advice.

Called International Adoption and Surrogacy – family formation in the 21st Century, the conference will be held in Wellington on 9 April and Auckland on 11 April.

Run by NZLS CLE Ltd, the conference will qualify participants for 6.5 CPD hours.

“The title to this conference should excite the interest of all those who practice family law in New Zealand,” says the conference chair, Paul von Dadelszen, who was, when he retired from the Bench in May 2013, the longest serving of New Zealand’s District and Family Court judges.

“As international adoption involving surrogacy arrangements is becoming more and more common, it is vital that lawyers understand the relevant law (what there is of it) and practice.

“The aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity to hear from various experts across a number of disciplines.”

The keynote speaker will be Dr Gabriela Misca, from the University of Worcester, England. Her research “has given her an insight into the consequences for the child of adoption across international boundaries,” Mr von Dadelszen says.

“Other speakers will include those who work at the coalface and have to advise their clients about the relevant conventions, the Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997 and the concept of habitual residence.

“You will be given a guided tour through the current state of New Zealand case law in this field.

“There will be the opportunity during a panel discussion to hear from representatives from relevant ministries about processes which need to be followed and to ask them questions. An expert from Fertility Associates will be talking about new medical frontiers and the legal challenges which they may present.

“Importantly, you will be informed about overseas trends and challenged to consider how our law might be improved.

“As a result of what you will learn at the conference, you may well ask yourselves the question: should there be an international convention to govern the practice of inter-country adoption and surrogacy?

“But the more important question in the domestic context is whether it is high time that we in New Zealand had specific legislation that addresses cross border surrogacy.

“Central to any case involving the adoption of a child is the welfare and best interests test, notwithstanding the fact that this country’s adoption legislation makes no mention of that paramount principle.

“It is often that principle which has enabled the judiciary, both here and abroad, when deciding adoption cases with an international flavour, to interpret the law in such a way as to achieve a result which has done justice to all those involved, including in particular the child.

“I am sure that you will find the issues discussed at this conference to be highly relevant to your practice of family law today. I encourage you to participate, not only in order to up-skill yourselves in this important area of your practice, but also to highlight the need for statutory reform,” Mr von Dadelszen says.

For more information and to register see

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