A qualitative study on behalf of the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice system reforms: main report

Family law Family Court New Zealand

In August 2018, the Minister of Justice asked an Independent Panel to examine the impacts of a package of reforms made to the family justice system in 2014. The 2014 reforms changed the services and processes available to help separating couples agreeing on the care and contact arrangements for their children.

The Independent Panel’s Terms of Reference require it to consult widely with those using and working in the family justice system to understand the overall effect of the 2014 changes, and particularly whether they are achieving outcomes that focus on the welfare and best interests of each child.

The Panel has conducted two phases of public consultation with parents, professionals and peak bodies and was interested in hearing from children/ young people, and parents who may not otherwise engage with mainstream feedback loops (Māori parents, Pasifika parents, new migrant/ refugee parents and parents with disabilities).

Research was commissioned to gather feedback and personal experiences of the family justice system changes made in 2014 from these specific groups.

The primary objectives of this research were to explore and understand the experiences of the post2014 services for resolving disputes about care including experiences of both out of court and incourt processes and more specifically to:

  • Identify what is working well and what could be improved
  • Identify any unintended consequences of the 2014 family justice system reforms.
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