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Child Participation: Overcoming Disparity between New Zealand’s Family Court and Out-of-court Dispute Resolution Processes

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This article considers children’s right to participate in the context of private law disputes concerning their post-separation, day-to-day care and contact arrangements. In New Zealand the approach to ascertaining children’s views has been both long-standing and systematic for contested proceedings within the Family Court (via children’s legal representatives and judicial meetings with children). However, major reform of the family justice system in 2014 shifted the emphasis to new out-of-court processes for resolving post-separation parenting arrangements. The reforms were disappointingly silent on the issue of children’s participation in the new Family Dispute Resolution services, particularly mediation. A disparity has thus arisen between opportunities for children’s engagement in New Zealand’s in-court and out-of-court dispute resolution processes. Research evidence and international developments in Australia and England and Wales are reviewed for the guidance they can offer in remedying this in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Affiliations: 1: Children’s Issues Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand,


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