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 terms of reference for the Panel were announced by the Minister of Justice on 1 August 2018. The Minister has asked the Panel to report back to him by May 2019.
Minister’s Press Release - Panel appointed to re-write 2014 Family Court reforms(external link)
If so, we want to hear from you
The Panel wants to hear from people who have first-hand experience of the family justice system and the 2014 changes.
More information about how you can have your say is coming soon.
We will be updating this page with information on how you can do this and the progress of the Panel’s work.
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.
The Panel will be supported by an Expert Reference Group. The Expert Reference Group will include experts in child psychology, mediation, family law, kaupapa Māori research, and family violence. It will also include representation for professionals working in the family justice system. The members will be announced shortly.