Updates to Family Court Bill Supports Young People

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai welcomes the passing of the Family Court (Supporting Children in Court) Legislation Bill amendments.

The Bill amendments focus on engaging young people in processes that affect their care, with tamariki and rangatahi participation a guiding principle.

Next steps for policy makers will be developing best practice guidance for child participation so that the law can be implemented.

Other key parts of the Bill amendments:

  • Reinforces that people should be protected from family violence.
  • Reinstates legal representation in the early stages of Care of Children Act proceedings, with legal aid for eligible parties to increase access to advice and support for separating parties.
  • Expands lawyers’ duties in care of children proceedings:
    • Lawyers will be required to promote early resolution out of the courts where possible.
    • Lawyers representing children will have a legal requirement to explain the nature of proceedings to the children they represent.
    • New legislative criteria for the child’s lawyer to have more effective representation of the child’s interests e.g. where possible the lawyer has the appropriate experience, training, personality and cultural background to represent the child.

The amendment to section 5 of the Care of Children Act will now include “a child, who is capable of forming their own view, should be given reasonable opportunities to participate in any decision affecting them”. Our Kaiwhakamana (Advocate) role is vital in supporting young people to participate in the Family Court process. Our independence means we are simply in this space to ensure the young person’s voice is amplified alongside their lawyer, enabling fully informed decisions by the Family Court.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai looks forward to building on our mahi with Family Court lawyers to ensure we can work in partnership to support young people in understanding and engaging more meaningfully in the Court process.

 You can read more on the Family Court (Supporting Children in Court) Legislation Bill amendments here.