Andrew Little |
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 – 08:56
The Family Court Reform Bill, reported back to Parliament today, will put fair and effective resolutions to family disputes at risk, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little.
“Even with the minor changes recommended by select committee, the Bill will still require separating parents to stump up around $900 for a compulsory private process to resolve disputes.
“That is a significant cost and one that is not paired with adequate support or advocacy.
“Parents are being forced into this process with limited access to legal advice and representation. All separations are challenging, but this bill puts unrealistic expectations on parents’ abilities to deal with separations rationally.
“Furthermore, dependent children of separating parents will have virtually no legal representation raising real doubts about whether the Bill will comply with our international obligations to ensure children’s needs are voiced in any legal dispute that affects them.
“Measures dealing with violent and abusive family relationships, which have been in our present law since the mid-1990s, were originally removed from the Bill altogether and have only been reinstated in a much watered-down form.
“I have no confidence the Bill in its present form will make things better for families going through the tragedy and stress of separation and Labour will continue to oppose the legislation,” Andrew Little said.