Ensuring a swift response to family violence allegations

Judge Jacquelyn Moran — Family Court Judge

For the past 14 years I have sat as a Family Court judge in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Cases involving allegations of domestic violence are a significant part of my work.

Image of Judge J Moran.These allegations usually arise where parents, usually mothers, are seeking orders protecting themselves and their children from domestic violence, and a parenting order granting them the day-to-day care of their children.

Very often these applications are made without the other parent knowing, on the grounds that the orders are required urgently.

Every working day there are judges throughout New Zealand assigned to deal with these applications swiftly and efficiently by electronic means, regardless of where in the country the applications have been filed. These are the e-duty judges for the day. The e-duty judge must decide whether a parent applying for such an order can establish that the delay caused by notifying the other parent might entail a risk of harm or undue hardship, particularly to the children whose welfare and best interests are paramount.

In these initial phases, and throughout the processes that may follow, the judge must keep to the fore the welfare and best interests of the children and the need to protect family members from domestic violence. The two are not always easy to reconcile.

Where interim orders have the effect of preventing a respondent from contact with children, the speedy resolution of care and contact issues is critical to the children whose emotional welfare may be ill served by prolonged separation from the respondent parent.

" … the judge must keep to the fore the welfare and best interests of the children and the need to protect family members from domestic violence"