New Zealand Family Court Sets Example with Call for Better Mental Health Measures

Though in most places in the world, family courts exist to help resolve conflicts and make difficult decisions nevertheless designed to create the best possible good in complex situations, family court experiences themselves are rarely if ever enjoyed by those who are obliged to attend. In fact, many such experiences are marked by emotional and mental difficulties of an exceptional nature, and the path toward recovery from family break-ups, re-structuring, and other issues may be long. Certainly, however, interactions with family court should be able to provide a minimum of care, capable of helping people establish happier and healthier lives. Such is the concern of a family court judge in New Zealand, who recently spoke out against inadequate services and understanding which has led to an alarming 18 suicides among family court visitors in the space of a year.

Noting that domestic violence, mental health issues, and other concerns are often encountered in the family court setting, the judge states that those working within the judicial system should be better equipped to identify people who may be in need of specialized care, and that greater, more accessible services should be created to not only meet with clients, but to help them stay enrolled in support programs. Many people who experience traumatic emotional events in family courts do not seek treatment, or, if they do, a substantial number drop out of programs early. By making bold calls for better mental health measures, the judge may inspire court systems around the world to take mental health into greater consideration. With the right attention and professional, heartfelt care, family courts may one day greater embody the mission of service for which they were originally established.


© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Frank


    November 24th, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    This is just the individual’s goodness and not everybody is going to emulate this. But the efforts and intention of this particular person are laudable indeed. Going out of your way for others’ good is not everybody’s cup of coffee.

  • doyle


    November 24th, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    It is an appreciable effort on part of the judge to have recommended such measures and if followed, are sure to show results. Not everything needs to be sorted out in to courtroom…there are a lot of things that can be solved through better understanding of the matter.

  • Yvonne


    November 24th, 2009 at 5:52 PM

    The key is having the resources and services available when the people need them and not thinking that there is always going to be someone else to step in and sove the problem. Things just don’t work that way. Have the services ready for when people need them!



    November 25th, 2009 at 3:18 AM

    Seemingly small family problems can cause a lot of grief and tension in the minds of the people involved and even though they are not physical hurt, in most cases, it will leave a lasting impact on them psychologically… the family structure is totally dismantled during a family conflict and most of us tend to break down once this happens because there would be no order in our lives if the family has broken up and each one has gone their own way…

  • laurie


    June 1st, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    what do u guys reckon about kids and fathers with mental ilnness i have aye 3 year old boy in nz and i have mental illness and have contact with my son im ot good at talkin to th ex about the raiseing of how child do use have feed back pls thanks

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