Family Court Rewrite

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Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms

In 2014, major changes were made to the family justice system. This included requiring mediation before parents could apply to the Family Court, and removing lawyers from the early stages of some court proceedings.

The 2014 reforms aimed to help people resolve parenting disputes without having to go to court, however, we now know that these changes are not working for some people.

The Minister of Justice has asked an Independent Panel to examine the changes and consider how they have impacted separating families and their children.

The Independent Panel is due to report back to the Minister of Justice by May 2019.

The second round of consultation has now closed

Based on what they heard in the first phase of consultation, the Panel considered changes need to be made to the Family Court and related services. The Panel produced a second consultation document which outlined their initial thoughts on a proposed direction for change. The second phase of consultation closed on 1 March 2019.

English: Strengthening the family justice system [PDF, 2 MB]

English: Strengthening the family justice system [DOCX, 1.2 MB]

Te Reo: Te Whakapakari i te Pūnaha Whakawā mō te Whānau [PDF, 3.6 MB]

EasyRead: Strengthening the family justice system [PDF, 4.1 MB]

EasyRead: Strengthening the family justice system [DOCX, 10 MB]

The following document contains answers to some frequently asked questions about the Panel and its work:

Strengthening the family justice system - Q and A [PDF, 330 KB]

The video below introduces the Panel’s second round of consultation in New Zealand Sign Language.

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The first round of consultation

The Panel’s first round of consultation was aimed at identifying what has been working well and what has not since 2014. People using and working in the system were invited to make a submission to the Panel between 5 September 2018 and 9 November 2018. Thank you to all those who took the time to have their say.

The Panel has released a summary of the submissions received, which can be viewed at:

Submissions Summary: Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms [PDF, 824 KB]

Submissions Summary: Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms [DOCX, 3.1 MB]

In addition, submissions from organisations that approved public release can be found at the following links:

The Backbone Collective [PDF, 295 KB]

Barnardos [PDF, 626 KB]

Blind Citizens NZ [PDF, 132 KB]

IHC New Zealand [PDF, 648 KB]

New Zealand Law Society [PDF, 1 MB]

New Zealand Nurses Organisation [PDF, 224 KB]

Northern Specialist Report Writers [PDF, 495 KB]

Office of Children's Commissioner [PDF, 340 KB]

Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists [PDF, 289 KB]

Save the Children [PDF, 165 KB]

Skylight Trust [PDF, 497 KB]

For your reference, the Panel’s consultation paper from the first phase of consultation can be found at the following links. Please note that the submissions relating to this paper have now closed.

English:  The 2014 family justice system reforms [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Te Reo Māori:  Whakaputahia Ō Whakaaro (Māori) [PDF, 1.2 MB]

EasyRead:  Have your say on the family justice system [PDF, 5.9 MB]

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Key dates for the Family Justice Rewrite

1 August 2018 Terms of Reference announced
5 September - 9 November 2018 First round of public consultation
23 January - 1 March 2019 Second round of public consultation
31 May 2019 Report delivered to the Minister of Justice

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About the Panel

Rosslyn Noonan (Chair) is Director of the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights, Law, Policy and Practice at the University of Auckland. Between 2001- 2011 Rosslyn was Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission and she chaired the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions between 2010 to 2012. During her career, Rosslyn has been National Secretary of the New Zealand Educational Institute, National Executive of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Commissioner for the Royal Commission on Social Policy, and Trade Union and Human Rights Co-ordinator for Education International. Rosslyn has broad experience working in the areas of conflict resolution, race, ethnic and religious relations in multicultural societies, and gender equality.

La-Verne King (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Paoa and Ngāti Kahungunu) is a lawyer based in Taipa, Northland. She specialises in family law, Youth Court work, Māori land law and residential conveyancing. La-Verne previously established an all Māori and Pasifika women legal practice in South Auckland – King Alofivae Malosi – which received the Auckland District Law Society’s EEO ‘Most Innovative’ award in 2000. She was appointed lawyer for child from 1994, District Inspector for Mental Health in 2003 and Visiting Justice in 2009. La-Verne was the inaugural convenor of the Māori Issues Committee of the Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society and is a former Co Chairperson of Te Hunga Roia Māori o Aotearoa (NZ Māori Law Society).

Chris Dellabarca is a Wellington-based lawyer specialising in family law. From 1995 to 2012 Chris was in general practice, including family law, and tutored at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. He joined a Wellington family law firm in 2012 as a partner and has specialised in family law since then. Chris acts as a lawyer for child, lawyer to assist the Court, and counsel for Central Authority in cases involving child abduction.

Expert Reference Group

The Panel is being supported by an Expert Reference Group. The Expert Reference Group includes experts in child psychology, mediation, family law, kaupapa Māori research, and family violence. It also includes representation for professionals working in the family justice system.

Find out more about the Expert Reference Group(external link)

Terms of reference

The Panel's terms of reference were announced by the Minister of Justice in August 2018. The Minister has asked the Panel to report back to him by May 2019.

Terms of Reference for the Independent Panel [PDF, 70 KB]

Minister’s Press Release - Panel appointed to re-write 2014 Family Court reforms(external link)

Related documents

The Cabinet Paper which approved the Rewrite of the 2014 family justice system reforms [PDF, 139 KB]

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