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10 FREE things you can do to help resolve your family law issue

April 8, 2012

While listening to the radio while driving this afternoon, I learned that Lonely Planet has released a list of the top ten travel things you can do for free which got me to thinking about what ten free things one can do to help get through a family law issue.

While my list may not be as exciting as discovering the Staten Island ferry is still free or that entry into the Musee de Louvre is free on Sundays, it will likely be a lot more useful than LP’s list to those of you going through a separation or family law dispute.

  1. Head to – under the “Publications” section, there are a number of links to the Ministry’s brochures in PDF form. If it is a family law issue, there is likely to be a brochure on it here. If you don’t have access to the internet, your local Family Court or Citizen’s Advice Bureau should have copies of the brochures.
  2. Take a look at the website of the Collaborative Law Association of New Zealand at This could open up to you the opportunity to resolve your family law issue without Court proceedings and in a far more conciliatory manner than you ever envisaged. The few lawyers trained in Collaborative Law in NZ are passionate about it so you should have no trouble finding one who will take some time to have an initial chat with you about it to see if it will suit your situation.
  3. Check out your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Most run a free legal advice clinic. You will usually have to make an appointment. These are usually only 15 minute time slots with a lawyer but such a session may help point you in the right direction towards resolving your issue.
  4. Talk to a trusted friend or family member who has already been through a separation or divorce. Be clear about what you hope to get out of the discussion. You may not be wanting someone to simply use you as a sounding board as they regurgitate the whole story of their separation so choose your person carefully and be armed with some key questions so you can get some useful tips – who would they recommend as a lawyer? As a counsellor? What worked for them? What didn’t?
  5. Want to know how much child support that you may have to pay or that you may be able to receive? has a great free child support calculator.
  6. If you are a parent of dependent children, get along to the free “Parenting through Separation” programme run through the Ministry of Justice. My clients who have done this programme have all given positive feedback on the helpfulness of this course. Its only cost is your time. You can get more information by free calling 0800 211 211.
  7. Inevitably a separation means an overhaul of your finances. will help you do just that – get sorted. Alternatively, most areas have a free budget advisory service. Most of the banks’ websites also have very easy to use calculators which are a great starting point for helping you calculate things like how much you can borrow, what the repayments will be etc.
  8. Enquire with your local Family Court about whether the free referral to counselling that it offers may be suitable for helping you with your family law problem. In most cases, the first thing that the Family Court will do if it receives an application for a parenting order is to refer the parties to counselling. A lot of people don’t realise you can request the referral to this free counselling without making an application for a court order.
  9. Use your local library. There is a large number of books available for adults, young people or children about separation and divorce.
  10. Listen. Sounds easy, doesn’t it, but when one is in the midst of a discussion about an emotionally charged issue it is surprisingly difficult to stop talking, stop hearing what you think the other person has said or is going to say, stop jumping to “solve” the problem being discussed and to actually just listen openly but I never said these were “free” AND “easy” tips! Listening is completely free and I am convinced it is the single most effective thing people facing a family law issue can do to resolve that issue.

If you want  help to resolve a family or relationship issue, go to

  1. Ya nice post. I really like this its very informative thanks for share it. A family court is a court convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children. In common-law jurisdictions “family courts” are statutory creations primarily dealing with equitable matters devolved from a court of inherent jurisdiction, such as a superior court.


    Be on time, Dress appropriately, Be courteous to court staff, Treat your Lawyer and you opposition’s Lawyer with respect, Be on your best behavior, Get your emotions in check, Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  2. Stuart permalink

    Hi there would love some direction or input please.
    What is New Zealand’s law relating to a gay male couple who have been together for 10 years (not married or civil union) who have just split and currently live in Australia:
    (Some brief info follows)

    The couple is mid 50s and mid 30s
    Both have been working throughout the relationship, however the 50s is the main “bread winner” and has provided the couple with a lifestyle that the 30s would not have been able to enjoy otherwise.

    No pre-nup or equivalent was signed.

    Most property is in the name of the 50s but there are some in the name of the 30s, although deposits / mortgage payments have been made by the 50s.

    Both are currently residing in Australia, does this have any effect on the split?

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