Family Court Rewrite

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 first round of consultation has now closed

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’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]

Second round of consultation

The Panel is currently considering all the submissions it has received, which will be used to inform its decisions. A second phase of consultation, focussed on the Panel’s preferred approach, will begin in January 2019. More information will be published here shortly.

Key dates for the Family Justice Rewrite

1 August 2018

Terms of Reference announced

5 September -
9 November 2018

First round of public consultation

January 2019

Further consultation is due to start in January 2019

May 2019

Report delivered to the Minister of Justice

Panel members

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]