News Item

November 2016

Research Report Released on Experiences of Grandparents in the Family Court - pre the 2014 changes

Pukeko Research has released results of a Law Foundation funded survey on a group of grandparents raising their grandchildren – grandparents who had been involved in custody and guardianship matters in the Family Court prior to the 2014 changes.

The study, titled “Study of Grandparents in Family Court Proceedings over their Grandchildren Prior to the 2014 Changes in the Court”, reports on a range of aspects related to the participants’ experiences with the Family Court during this pre-change period.

Key themes explored in the survey included: access to justice, cost, court processes and difficulties with mediation.

Results concerning mediation are of particular interest, given that the 2014 Family Court changes were introduced largely around the argument that most cases could be resolved through people sorting out disputes about caring for children. The study revealed that over 40% of participants had been through mediation and most were dissatisfied with it, many saying it was a waste of time.

A prior survey by Pukeko Research had found the main reasons children came into grandparent care were: drug/alcohol addiction, neglect of a child, domestic violence and parental mental illness. Because of the nature of these problems it was apparent that reaching amicable resolutions would never be an easy process.

On a more positive note, most participants said they received the outcome they sought and were happy with it, but many noted a wide range of stressors with bringing up the children.

The findings will provide a point of reference for evaluating whether the new Family Court system provides a more effective resolution process than the old, from the perspective of the cohort of grandparents.

The Children’s Issues Centre at University of Otago is presently undertaking research that evaluates the 2014 Family Law reforms. It is looking at the perceptions and experiences of parents and practitioners since the reforms came into place. This is another piece of Law Foundation funded research.

The report on Grandparents in Family Court Proceedings is available on the Law Foundation’s publications web page for Research Reports

The Law Foundation has granted up to $8,000 towards this survey and report