The Justice Minister, Andrew Little, has introduced a proposal that will extend the role of the lawyer for the child in Family Court proceedings.  The changes are aimed to give the children a greater voice when Judges are considering different options for parenting orders.

A lawyer for child is appointed by the Court to represent the children in a custody or guardianship dispute. Their fees are usually initially paid for by the Ministry of Justice and then at the end of the proceeding, the parties may have to pay up to a 1/3rd  each of their total costs back to the Ministry.

If this law comes into force, it will require the lawyer for child to explain to the child what is happening in the Court proceedings in a way that can be understood by them.

Another proposed change is that when a lawyer for the child is appointed to represent the child, the Court will consider if the lawyer is a suitable fit, taking into consideration things such as personality, cultural background, training and experience to represent the particular child or children.

These potential changes have come from recommendations from an independent panel that was appointed to examine the effectiveness of the current law around parenting Court proceedings. 

These proposed changes are aimed to support children who want to have a say in the family arrangements, and help take their parents and guardians’ focus away from the dispute and focus on what is in the best interests of the children.

This Bill will not be passed into law before the election, but could be something that the next Government will look to progress after the election.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced family law team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Shaun Cousins
Family Lawyer