The new user charges in the Family Court are bad for kids and should not be introduced, the Green Party said today.
The Green Party has today sent a complaint to the Regulations Review Select Committee to reverse the recently introduced charges which come into force on the 1st of July.
"It is critical that the effect of this new fee on children is assessed before it proceeds. If it is likely to cause hardship for children it must not come into effect," said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
"The Family Court must be as accessible as possible for child custody cases so they can be properly resolved. Children are not chattels," said Mrs Turei.
"The Government proclaims that protecting vulnerable children is a priority but this change is a huge step backwards for kids.
"A woman coming from a violent relationship and working to overcome the emotional and financial hurdles already placed in front of her will be put off by these fees.
"The fee waiver process is great but is not guaranteed and so fees will be a further disincentive to women bringing these cases to be heard.
"The court is often the only safe place in which a victim of violence and intimidation can be properly heard. They should not be discouraged by a financial barrier.
"Women should be encouraged to fight for their part of the family assets, especially women who are making the courageous move to leave violent relationships and financial stability.
"It's not a good move to impose charges on women who may already be trying to overcome a financial hurdle by leaving an abusive relationship.
"I'm looking forward to presenting to the select committee on this issue and asking them to reverse the fees.
"If the Government wants to stop people taking inappropriate cases to court we need to discuss better approaches than this.
"The Family Court processes were designed so that cases heard before a judge are families who can't come to any other agreement, such as domestic violence cases.
"It is vital that families experiencing violence are given an opportunity to reach a resolution in the safety of a court, not pushed out of the only place they have left.
"The Minister has said that these fees are in line with other courts but the $906 proposed for a half day property case does not compare even to the $245 for a half day at employment court," Mrs Turei said.
Copy of the complaint: