A new law passed last night could see up to 25% of Family Court judges’ workload freed up to reduce delays in the courts system, according to Minister of Justice, Kiri Allan.
The Family Court (Family Court Associates) Legislation Bill will establish a new role known as the Family Court Associate. The position will focus on a mixture of judicial and registrar’s tasks, in order to free up judges’ and enable them to progress substantive matters more quickly, the Minister said.
“Going through the Family Court is already a traumatic and distressing experience for many. Experiencing court delays on top of this compounds that stress. The Government is continuously to look for ways to reduce delays and this new legislation will address that.”
“The work of the Family Court is incredibly important. It deals with a diverse set of issues, from the care and protection of children and family violence, through to divorce and relationship property.
“An accessible Family Court that can operate without undue delay is not only key to a fully functioning family justice system but key to ensuring there is better access to justice in New Zealand.
“We want Family Court judges who currently have very high workloads to be able to concentrate on progressing cases through the court,” said Ms Allan.
The Family Court Associate role is based on one of the recommendations made in the 2019 report, Te Korowai Ture ā-Whānau.
The Government is currently undertaking a phased approach to the report’s recommendations. Transformation of the family justice system is a five to 10-year project, the Minister said.