Fifty Years of New Zealand Family Law
(2013) 25 NZULR 645-666
22 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014
Date Written: 2013
This collaborative article examines the significant changes to New Zealand family law during the last 50 years. The article canvasses three areas that have seen substantial changes during this time - what constitutes a legal family; changes in the exercise of judicial discretion in family law cases involving children; and the evolution of the financial and property consequences of family breakdown. The article initially focuses on the law's reaction to the changing New 'Zealand family and the important milestones in this legal evolution. This is accompanied by a detailed, historic analysis of the difficulties in deciding what is "best" for children involved in family law disputes and the degree of judicial discretion that should be exercised during this process. The article concludes by chronicling the significant legislative changes since 1963 concerning the financial implications of relationship breakdown and how this affects the children involved. This article illustrates how far New Zealand has come in the last 50 years regarding the increased legal recognition and protection of a wide variety of familial relationships. However, it argues that the recent debates surrounding adoption and marriage equality indicate that there is still a way to go before the law treats all New Zealand families equally.
Keywords: Family Law, Judicial Review, Judicial Discretion, Paramountcy Principle, Civil Union, De Facto Relationship, No Fault, Surrogacy
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation