The war on the poor has extended its reach to the Family Court. In the guise of protecting the vulnerable and improving the experience of those needing assistance to resolve family disputes the Government has reformed the Family Court fundamentally.
Although the Minister of Justice consulted with an expert advisory group what became clear when the minister’s report and recommendations to Cabinet were released was that that the real purpose of the reforms is to reduce the cost to the state of providing such assistance.
From March 2014 when the reforms come into effect, parents who go to Court for assistance in resolving disputes about the care of their children will not be entitled or able to have legal representation in Court prior to the matter going to a Hearing. There are a number of pieces of legislation and Court rules and regulations over which the Family Court has jurisdiction the main one being the Care of Children Act 2004.It is unrealistic and unfair to expect those in crisis to understand and interpret its provisions.