The Prime Minister is rejecting claims that changes to the
family court structure will make it unaffordable for couples.
"The Family Court shouldn't be used for resolving financial disputes between warring parents, it should be used for other reasons," John Key says.
Proposals for changes to the Family Court announced yesterday include increasing the penalty for breaching a protection order, recognising 'economic abuse' as a form of psychological abuse, and improving domestic violence programmes.
The proposed reforms also include the introduction of a new Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) service to help people get on with their lives more quickly.
However plans to cut the current six free counselling sessions for couples to just one, have prompted claims families will face significant financial hardship.
The association representing counsellors says that doesn't allow enough time to resolve issues and families will be forced to seek help elsewhere.
"A lot of struggling families are already on the bread line and they haven't got a spare $100 to pay for a counsellor or $150 or whatever the rate might be," says Elayne Johnston of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors.
"It is in a way, justice denied," she told ONE News today.
However John Key says he does not agree with such claims.
"What we are trying to do is set up a disputes resolution system which means that the vast bulk of people do not to go to court and that is a really positive thing for children that are involved in those relationships.
He says if someone can't afford to go to court there are "a number of provisions in the law which will ensure they get free legal aid".
The Prime Minister says the aim is to deliberately get people out of court "as we think that will be a faster and more successful way of resolving issues".
A comprehensive review of the Family Court was completed earlier this year after input from the public, judges, lawyers and counsellors.
Justice Minister Judith Collins says the reforms will ensure the Family Court renews its focus toward those who need it most.
The Government will introduce legislation for the changes later this year.