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January 11, 2006

New Family Court Statistics: Majority of Care Orders Awarded To Mothers by Joint Agreement

New Family Court Statistics: Majority of Care Orders Awarded To Mothers by Joint Agreement

The first gender-based statistics released by the Family Court since 1990 indicate that 65% of day-to-day care orders (previously custody orders) are awarded to mothers, 11% to fathers and about 12% to another party. 12% share the day to day care order.

Only 5.4 % of all day to day care orders are made by a judge at a defended hearing. The vast majority of parenting orders, 74%, are reached by consent between parents. with the remaining 20.6% by a judge where only one parent attends. The new figures cover nearly half of 5865 parenting orders for the previous year ending June 2006.

Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier suggests the figures indicate that “Mothers and Fathers seem to be saying that they prefer it that mothers care for children in the vast majority of cases. …In all probability what the Family Court is doing is mirroring social reality”.

Judge Boshier pointed out that judges awarded 18.4% of day-to-day care to fathers in defended hearings, a higher percentage than the 11% father care agreed to by consenting parents.

The Department of Statistics stopped collecting gender data in 1990 when sole maternal custody was 74%, sole paternal custody 13 %, and joint custody 9%. The new figures were requested by the NZ Herald.

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