The New Zealand Ministry of Justice are shortly to cut their family courts’ involvement in divorce by up to 40%. New Zealand has set up a new mediation service to deal with the number of divorces and ends of civil partnerships that traditionally have found their way into the court system, in an effort to reduce the workload of the courts. This is reminiscent of the moves which the UK government made last year in restricting the amount of publicly funded family legal work, and the new changes which come into force on 1st April 2014.
The UK courts are no longer involved in helping families to divide their property and arrange for children to see both parents and all of the other matters that have to be dealt with when a marriage or civil partnership comes to an end. The new alternative of working out a settlement that the separating couple can both live with, in other words mediation, has been shown to be an effective, far quicker and far less expensive way to separate. Pursuing a divorce or separation via mediation has been proven by the MoJ to take about one third of the amount of time and about a quarter of the cost of a separation and divorce that is pursued through the court system. The ending of a marriage or civil partnership is generally an emotional time for everyone involved – the advantages offered by mediation of relative speed and low cost can help support separating couples at a difficult time; additionally, they can help people begin to establish their new lives without having the past hanging over them