An open letter about the New Zealand Family Court and Law

16 January 2015

To whom it may concern (and this should concern everyone),

Throughout my dealings with the New Zealand Family Court and everyone who is involved in it, I keep hearing the term “in the best interests of the children” but have yet to see any evidence of this. I understand that no law or system is perfect yet it should at the very least be serving its purpose. I would like an answer to all of the following please and if you don’t have an answer, I would like to know what is going to be done about it, when or why nothing is going to be done about it or of course if something has been done about it.

If everything in the family court system and law is “in the best interests of the child” could you please explain to me how it is in the best interests of the child for…

there not to be compulsory DNA tests performed at birth?

one parent to continue to act badly (deny access etc) because the system allows them to?

the answer from all authorities, that are supposed to be there to help children (and the public), is just to “get a lawyer” or “just give up” or “there’s nothing we can do”?

the Human Rights Commission to refuse to help with any human rights issues in regards to the family court?

a parent/guardian to not have access to the child’s medical records?

a child to be left in the care of an unfit parent?

a child to be left in the care of a parent/family who abuse the other parent and tell lies constantly to the child about the other parent?

men to have no rights while the woman is pregnant?

CYFS to ignore concerns raised with them?

parents not being able to force (through the courts) a DNA test?

parents to be charged more Child Support than they can afford?

parents to be financially penalised if they cannot make the child support payments?

parents to pay someone (Child Support) who is abusing their child and them (the paying parent)?

a parent to be able to use Child Support as a weapon? Either asking the paying parent to pay more or they won’t see the child or if the parent misses a payment, using that as an excuse to not allow the child and parent to see each other. Whilst at the same time not allowing a paying parent to postpone payments if they are not having contact with the child?

a father to have to pay back-dated Child Support if he finds outs he is a father after the birth (sometimes years after)?

a parent to be paying more for a child that is not in their care than for a child that is in their care?

a parent to be given a financial incentive to not allow the child to see the other parent very often, if at all? This is what is going to happen once the new Child Support laws come in soon.

parents to be bankrupted or put under severe financial stress by unfair child support demands?

the IRD to charge ludicrous amounts of Child Support based on imaginary earnings?

there to be no right of reply if the IRD decides to uphold or increase the wrongful assessment after an administrative review?

there to be no checks in place to ensure child support is actually being spent on the children?

child support to be based on income not proper living costs?

the IRD to charge a parent more Child Support if they get a raise, but if they receive less income, they won’t decrease the amount they have to pay?

the IRD to reassess a parent’s child support payments at any stage without any proof of any change of circumstances?

the Child Support a parent pays is assessed on the previous year’s earnings and not on their current earnings?

a parent to pay more child support than the other parent receives if they are on a benefit?

a child to have no idea the other parent is contributing financially to their upbringing and well-being?

a parent to completely alienate a child/children from their other parent and family?

a child not to know who its father is?

children to miss out on relationships with their siblings?

one parent not to know where the child lives/goes to school/anything about them at all, even when no protection order is in place?

parents to able to cancel visits for no reason and for the other parent to have no way to explain to the child why or to recoup any expenses they may have paid in order to see the child? (Without of course, going back to court and/or mediation and spending more money and time.)

a parent to cut short any agreed times the child and other parent may be spending together, for no reason?

a parent to withhold information about the child from the other parent?

a parent can keep another parent away from special events or celebrations in the child’s life, with or without the use of threats? Despite that parent being able to attend events of their other children and friends children without any problems?

a child to have no idea that they are about to spend a day/weekend etc with the other parent?

children to be denied the right to a balanced and happy upbringing?

there not to be 50/50 shared parenting from the beginning?

parents to have to wait a year or more to even get to mediation?

one parent to go to mediation/court as often as they like due to them being eligible for aid?

the costs of the “system” be so enormous that only people on legal aid or who are extremely wealthy can afford to try and get justice for their children?

there to be no consequences for lying?

mediators/judges to have no power in a mediation?

a lawyer for child to only talk to one of the parents and then claim to have all the information they need?

there to be no requirement to provide evidence for any allegations made against one of the parents?

a school to completely ignore the rights of a non-custodial parent?

a parent to have to pay a large sum just to try and get a court order upheld in the family court, which lawyers say won’t do anything but anger the judge?

the Family Court to work in secrecy so no-one can find out how bad it is, therefore no real changes will be made?

sole custody to be overwhelmingly granted to mothers?

the courts to put parents through a trial of new procedures and not inform the parents of it? Causing the parents to lose more time and money as the lawyer has to do more work to figure out what is going on?

all the family courts around different parts of the country to run differently causing the parent to lose more time and money as the lawyer has to do more work to figure out what is going on?

lawyers, court staff, judges and mediators to be able lie without consequences?

guardians to not be able to make any decisions or be involved in any decisions in the child’s life? Sure they can go to court, but then it is more money spent and by the time they get there, or even to mediation it will be too late? Also after all of that, there is no guarantee they will even be able to be involved in the decisions anyway.

there to be no penalties enforced or consequences for a parent who breaks a parenting order?

there to be the threat of imprisonment for breaking a parenting order? (Even though this is seldom/if ever enforced?)

the system to be so unfair and unreliable that parents just give up on the system which leaves them no alternative?

a father to be unable to get an injunction for the mother to leave town/the country while she is pregnant, yet being able to do so once the child is born?

mediators etc to be able to “forget” to do certain things and forcing the parent to restart the process from the beginning?

parenting orders to be made in the absence of one parent?

one parent to be able to delay counselling/mediation/court proceedings?

parents not to be able to use in court anything that is said or done in mediation?

a mediator/judge to allow a parent to leave a mediation to ask the advice of someone not involved in the process, who is not a lawyer, guardian or parent, on every single point/matter raised? In other words how can they allow someone who is not involved, to have a direct influence on the proceedings/outcome which affects the children?

the courts to try and pressure a parent into signing a parenting order that they do not agree with?

people who work in the Family Courts to continue working there when they know that it is ineffective? I have lost count of how many times I have been told “most fathers would have given up by now” or “I feel sorry for the parent who does everything right and still can’t get anywhere”.

them to go their entire childhood thinking their other parent doesn’t love or care for them, only to find out once they are an adult that it was all a lie and that the only reason they never saw their other parent was due to a nasty, lying parent and ineffective courts, laws and authorities?

the media to not be allowed to report on anything to do with the Family Court or Child Support?

there to be advertisements only showing males/fathers as bad/potentially bad people?

women to be allowed to have children in prison?

a letter like this to be a parent’s only legal course of action left after trying everything else?

There are of course other questions in regards to the New Zealand Family Court/law but I have only focussed on the best interests of the child. I may have missed a number of things off this list that children and other parents have experienced, but I think these questions are a pretty good starting point.

I look forward to your answers and witnessing the changes needed to protect our children, thank you.

 

Yours sincerely,

22

 

 

Kerrin Revell

You can reply at kerrin.revell@gmail.com

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