Budget 2020 investment in the family court

A Budget initiative to strengthen the Family Court will help ensure parents and whānau are well-supported in a time of distress. The changes will promote timely, safe and durable resolution of care of children disputes. This investment will help to address delays in the Family Court, which will be exacerbated by COVID-19.

The Family Court (Supporting Families in Court) Legislation Bill will take effect on 1 July 2020. It forms part of the $62 million package and will restore the right to legal representation at the start of a care of children dispute in the Family Court and allow parties to those proceedings, where eligible, to access legal aid.

The Family Court (Supporting Families in Court) Legislation Bill(external link) 

The Bill will ensure that families and whānau are well-supported with early legal advice and help reduce the level of delay in resolving issues in the Family Court, and the damaging effects this has on children, parents and whānau.

The Budget initiative will:

  • Establish Family Justice Liaison Officers and produce better information resources to help parents and whānau navigate the system;
  • Increase Legal Aid; and
  • Increase remuneration for lawyers for children to incentivise the recruitment and retention of skilled practitioners.

A second Bill focused on strengthening the Family Court will follow later this year, which will:

  • Enhance children’s participation in proceedings that affect them;
  • Ensure that children feel supported and informed as they move through the Family Court process;
  • Expand lawyers’ duties in care of children proceedings.

These initiatives follow the review of 2014 changes to the family court.

For other Budget 2020 initiatives, see:

Summary of Budget 2020 Initiatives for the justice sector [PDF, 260 KB]

← Back to the news

This page was last updated: