Hawke's Bay-based family lawyers met with New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) executives on Friday to discuss major concerns they have with proposed government changes to the Family Court system.
Minister of Justice Judith Collins released a Cabinet paper in August highlighting possible changes to the Family Court, which NZLS says will negatively impact New Zealanders and, in particular, children.
Changes include creating a compulsory Family Dispute Resolution Service fee of $897, changes to interim and final orders, and the creation of three "tracks" for applications where some people won't be represented by a lawyer.
NZLS Family Law Section chair Garry Collin said many of the changes were cost-cutting and would be detrimental to minorities, women and children.
"Certainly children are entitled to a lawyer and again they're proposing to remove lawyers for children in a large number of cases, so children will no longer have the ability to participate," Mr Collin said. "The role of lawyers for children will remain but it will be significantly reduced."
Under the three track system, disputes would be classified into either fast track, simple track and standard track. Fast track matters would be urgent applications for court assistance with lawyers involved, but simple track would require parties to represent themselves.