Dispute service costs too much: Labour

  • 02/08/2012

The cost of accessing the government's proposed Family Dispute Resolution Service will be a "huge barrier" for people caught up in domestic disputes, Opposition parties say.

The service is at the heart of sweeping changes to the Family Court system announced on Thursday.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says it will save thousands of applicants from having to hire lawyers and go through expensive court procedures.

It will be mandatory for parties in a dispute to give it a try, and they can still go to court if it doesn't work.

The cost of a hearing was announced as $780 excluding GST, which Labour says means an upfront payment of $897.

Justice spokesman Charles Chauvel says the service is being priced beyond the reach of many families.

"It makes accessing family dispute mechanisms much more difficult," he said.

"Family disputes which should be resolved quickly and freely will be prolonged, in some cases indefinitely."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says it's a good idea to encourage people to go to the resolution service before heading into court but also thinks the cost is too high.

"Families could be locked out by the cost of accessing the cornerstone service, which could put women and children at risk," she said.

Ms Collins says going through the court and hiring lawyers can cost families hundreds of thousands of dollars and cases often go on for years.

Other changes include measures to speed up the system and extending the definition of domestic violence to include "economic abuse".

Ms Collins says that means preventing someone from working to earn money, taking money from them and using money to gain power and control.


source: newshub archive