A bill has been introduced to Parliament that will bring in the most significant changes to the Family Court system since it was established in 1981.
The reforms have been previously announced and Justice Minister Judith Collins says the court will be more accessible, more efficient and will better serve the victims of domestic violence.
Key features are:
- A new Family Dispute Resolution service to help parents and families settle their problems without going to court
- Increased penalties for breaching protection orders
- Extending the definition of domestic violence to include economic abuse
- Expanding the Parenting Through Separation course
- Improved programmes to stop domestic violence
- Better information to help people navigate the court system.
The changes will also save money.
Ms Collins says the cost of running the Family Court has increased 70 percent over the last six years from $84 million to $142m despite the number of applications remaining steady.
The bill will go on Parliament's agenda for its first reading.