Justice Minister Andrew Little has established an Independent Panel to examine the 2014 family justice reforms. Those reforms made significant changes to the family justice system including introducing Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) and removing lawyers from the early stages of some Family Court proceedings.
The Panel is made up of Rosslyn Noonan, a former Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, and two experienced family law specialists, La-Verne King and Chris Dellabarca. Learn more about the panel and terms of reference.
“The 2014 changes were meant to help people resolve parenting disputes without having to go to court but have in fact led to the opposite,” Andrew Little says. “There has been a huge increase in the number of urgent ‘without notice’ applications which have to be put before a Family Court judge.”
“This means that families and children are losing out as a result of not receiving adequate advice and support during this distressing time in their lives. The last Government removed access to lawyers in many cases, and I’m concerned about how this, and the other changes have impacted on people’s access to justice,” he says.
The Panel will be supported by an expert reference group that brings together people with specialist expertise, those with practical experience of the Family Court, and leading academics. This includes experts in family violence, child psychology, and kaupapa Māori research.
An important part of the Panel’s work will be to consult widely with those affected by the 2014 changes, including with court users, children and Family Court professionals.
The Panel will be reporting to Minister Little in May 2019.