Government to review National's changes to Family Court

Justice Minister Andrew Little.
Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo credit: Newshub

The Government is appointing a panel to review National's changes to the Family Court in 2014.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says he's concerned people are not getting adequate advice and support.

"The last Government removed access to lawyers in many cases, and I'm concerned about how this and the other changes have impacted on access to justice," he said.

"The 2014 changes were meant to help people resolve parenting disputes without having to go to court, but have in fact led to the opposite, as there's been a huge increase in the number of urgent 'without notice' applications which have to be put before a Family Court judge."

The review panel will be chaired by former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, who is the current director of the Centre for Human Rights at Auckland University's Law School.

It has been directed by Mr Little to take a human rights approach when considering improvements to the Family Court, to ensure welfare and the best interests of children are considered when settling disputes about their care.

"A human rights approach will ensure everyone's perspectives are considered, including survivors of family violence, and men who say they're not being given the opportunity to do some of the parenting when relationships end," Mr Little said.

"Talking with children who have experienced the Family Court system will also be vital for establishing how the system can work better for those who need it most."

The panel will report its recommendations to Mr Little no later than May 2019.