New Zealand Labour Party

Minister must fast track family law review

The Justice Minister must immediately bring forward her review of Family Court law reforms to stop the massive disparities and delays they’ve caused for families and children, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Labour raised concerns with Amy Adams almost a year ago about a dramatic increase in urgent applications to the court, the huge number of families who seemed to be disappearing from the system without their disputes being resolved and court delays. 

“The Minister’s response was that she: ‘talked to judges… they’re not raising significant systemic concerns’.

“However, statements from the Principal Family Court Judge Laurence Ryan today suggest otherwise.

“The Government’s reforms have resulted in applications without notice being used in what Judge Ryan described as an ‘astounding’ 86 per cent of cases. This fast-track mechanism is intended to be used where there is immediate safety risks but claimants are now using it to skip the massive court delays and to get legal representation.

“The Law Society has also highlighted the emergence of a two-tier system where families with money can access a lawyer and others can’t.

“Enough time has passed since the launch of these reforms for Amy Adams to be well aware of their gaps and failings. She must urgently bring forward the review so much-needed changes can be made,” Jacinda Ardern says.