Thursday, 15 August 2013

Responses from the Family Court users review.

Views on lawyers

I paid a lot of money yet still had no understanding of what strategy my lawyer was working from or to. They muddled along shuffling paper and writing to each other and not addressing my own or the children’s concerns.

My lawyer was extremely hard to get hold of and did not return my calls. I had never been through the family court process before and I had a lot of questions about the legal aspects many of which went unanswered. I provided my lawyer with vital information about my case which never made it before the judge. Information that may have resulted in a different outcome for myself and my three year old son.

Lawyer was helpful but the problem is the system or the other party.

Lawyers Skills and competencies

By making the right applications using the right sections and acts for me...

Could have used less adversarial approach, could have represented our family more realistically, could have done the work in more timely manner, could have short cut the process by going directly to the FC instead of adversarial lawyers battle which cost 15k for us and about the same for the other side of the family with still no outcomes that assisted the children involved. Nearly lost our home because of the costs incurred (large debt now) and still no resolution that represents what the children need 2yrs later.

My lawyer did not even mention there were alternatives to court proceedings. My lawyer could have been more helpful by insisting on more attention to s5(a) of the Care of Children Act 2004.

My lawyer did not give me all the facts regarding the options the Judges had available to them in their decisions. She told me there would only be one outcome - 50/50 of relationship property. This was not the case.


After the final parenting order

Ex-husband has not complied with the order for over a year now.

Order repeatedly breached without appropriate punishment, should have been contempt of court.

Most helpful court professional

No one to date has been helpful. Most have contributed to increased high parental conflict, especially the judges.

No one in the Family Court system – why else would the dispute go on for 8 years? The entire philosophy of the Family Court is wrong.


A corrupt lawyer whose only interest is to make false applications and live off the legal aid gravy train.

Lawyers who helped their clients to settle rather than just shuffle paper and maintain animosity.

Changes to the law and the court system

Care of children should be 50/50 by default when both parents shown as competent hence avoiding need for court.

A change to the law – it favours status quo and is hard to change, even if the status quo is no good for the children.

Child Orientation

A pre-court process that places accountability on the parents to act in the best interests of the children. If this is in place from the start, I believe that counselling and mediation have a better chance of success thus avoiding trauma for the children.

Need for greater transparency and accountability

The code of silence must be lifted. The family court system and those within it – from the bottom up – are protected by the code of silence which surrounds the system itself. The protection of children as a reason for this silence has allowed family court representatives to run amok with people’s lives and money, and the courts time and money.

There must be transparency and accountability: There is no system of accountability placed on the courts representatives, and certainly not one which allows vulnerable parties to expect any sort of honest investigation into such issues.

Lawyers should be made accountable as well as lawyers for the children - it appears to be a gravy train for them and it is unbelievable that they are able to charge the amounts that they do.

Need for consequences for lying and misleading the court

Consequences for applicants and lawyers who make without notice applications which are later found to have no merit or foundation, e.g. automatic award of costs unless exceptional circumstances. Recognise that some applicants use the court process to gain tactical advantage and harass respondents -- actions that outside the context of the court might be construed as psychological abuse particularly when there are small children involved.

Lawyers who mislead the court, lie or behave badly should be able to be punished quickly and harshly. Parents who lie to the court should be punished. Lawyers and parents who lie to Legal Aid should be punished. The lack of punishment encourages poor behaviour.

The [court] needs to be very effective with disciplinary action on parents that take matters into their own hands and continuously break parenting orders. They need to give the police the ability to act on those orders. As some parents are aware that the police cannot enforce a parenting order and that it is up to the other parent to go back to court and apply for a warrant to uplift.

System should be non-adversarial

Less adversarial lawyers. Their mandate should be mediation and not escalation.

…maybe the LAWYERS should go from this environment so it actually becomes about families and children as its focus, rather than a legal battle of wits between two law firms!

Replace lawyers with social workers, counsellors and mediators in the earliest stages following the lodging of applications in the family court. Social workers, counsellors and mediators are more apt, and hopefully more affordable, than lawyers, to sort out these issues properly. Family Court cases are not about property rights, they are about children's wellbeing. The involvement of lawyers as primary workers in these cases is not doing the best for our kids, and it’s hugely expensive.

Recognise that separated parents not being able to make decisions about parenting of children is not different from parents in intact families not being able to make similar decisions. It is an Interpersonal/Psychological/Communications problem NOT a legal one. By involving lawyers, judges, Family Court we make it one. There are many players then who have an investment in the problem, including a financial one.

Issues around lawyer for the child

Lawyers for children to be specialists, impartial and subject to appraisal.

The lawyer for child needs to be someone who has substantial training in child psychology and child development. Even better still, rather than or in addition to having a lawyer for child, there should be a social worker appointed to the children, who has an understanding of children's development and psychology, and who also takes the time to get to know the children, and understand what their situations really are like at home, and in the non-resident parent's home/social environment.

Lawyer for child should be removed and replaced with a social worker that has specialised qualifications in children.

Faster, more efficient process

It was such a long process. From time of separation it took two years to finally have arrangements in place through a court mediator. Very long and drawn out for children. Very hard to get hold of court coordinator - took 3 applications and a phone call from lawyer to even get the counsellor appointed.

The family court processes need to be dealt with straight away, the process takes too long and the children are damaged in the meantime.

The family court process is too slow and needs to be sped up.


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