Letter to Listener – Joy Hayward – Family Court Funding

The Editor,
Listener,
PO Box 90783
Victoria St West
Auckland 1142

The Government’s proposed changes to The Family Court are a disaster for families.

Currently, couples who are experiencing difficulties, are entitled to six sessions of couples therapy funded by the Family Court. Some couples access this at an early stage when they recognise there are minor cracks in the relationship, which, if unattended, may become major cracks which will destabilize the relationship. Repair work, at this stage, is usually very successful.

Other couples access therapy in a state of crisis, and even though the relationship may not be able to be saved at this point, the therapy often enables a more amicable separation and more positive ongoing interactions.

Money is often one of the major stressors for a couple, so expecting them to pay for this service will exacerbate the stress. Furthermore, if one party wants therapy and the other is reluctant, this poses an impossible barrier for the party who is most invested in sorting out the relationship.

Adult unhappiness spills out in a number of ways –increased drinking, drug use, violence, gambling, reckless or distracted driving, unproductive work.

Even more disturbing, is the cost to the children of this country. Living with unhappy parents, and worse, with parents at war with each other, is highly detrimental to children.

Couples therapy cannot help parents who are determined to use their children as weapons, but, these are a small minority. However, many parents lose sight of the best interests of their children whilst in distressed, hurt and angry states themselves. Couples therapy can greatly assist these families.
It is astounding, when our rates of child abuse are at an alarming level, that the government could be removing one of the few sources of publicly funded therapy. No savings to the country can possibly be made from this policy and the costs in human suffering are unthinkable.

Joy Hayward
Otago/ Southland Branch of The New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists

Address 195 Portobello Rd
Dunedin 9077
03 4554530