This regulatory area governs family law in Aotearoa New Zealand. It provides the framework for adult relationships (including relationship property), parent-child relationships, and for resolving disputes when relationships end.
This area includes the following systems:
The adult relationships system is primarily about the regulation of people’s personal relationships, for example marriage or civil union, and ownership of property. One of the system’s objectives is to ensure fairness in the division of property as this is often the focus following the end of a relationship or the death of one party. It also protects the interests of vulnerable adults who are unable to fully manage their own care and property matters.
The remedies provided in this system are for the distribution or control of property and assets under direction of the courts.
The parent-child regulatory system defines and regulates relationships between children and their parents or guardians. This system:
In 2018, the Minister of Justice appointed an Independent Panel to review the 2014 reforms to the family justice system. In mid-2020 Parliament agreed legislative amendments and new resourcing as part of the first phase of work responding to the panel’s report.
Changes seek to ensure that families and whānau are well-supported with early legal advice and information, children’s participation is enhanced, and lawyers’ duties are expanded in care of children proceedings. They also aim to reduce delay in resolving disputes in the Family Court, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Information about the independent panel’s review of reforms to the family justice system can be found at:
Work is ongoing to respond to the independent panel’s remaining recommendations relating to the 2014 reforms to the family justice system.