19 Apr 2011

Role of Family Court to be reviewed

7:52 pm on 19 April 2011

A government review of the Family Court will look at whether or not it is properly serving the needs of women, children and other vulnerable New Zealanders.

Justice Minister Simon Power has released terms of reference which will cover the court's functions, the role of the professionals involved and why court expenditure continues to rise.

Mr Power says spending has increased by 63% since 2005 from $83.9 million to $137.1 million.

That covers the running of the court, as well as providing family-related services such as counselling, legal aid and Care of Children applications.

Mr Power says the increased spending suggests the system is not working as well as it should and, futhermore, there is little to suggest that more money has led to better outcomes, particularly for children.

The minister says the main aim of the review is to ensure timely access to the court and to the protections it can offer.

Mr Power says he wants to make it clear the review is not meant as a criticism of the practitioners or judges who work in the court, saying their hard work is acknowledged and appreciated.