The law relating to the family divides into two branches – the marriage relationship, its formation, incidents, and breakdown, and the parent-child relationship, including adoption. The modern preoccupation with personal rather than property rights and relations has led to much development in both these branches, more particularly the first. New ideas have affected institutions and, in due course, the law to an extent little short of revolutionary. In changing the law, New Zealand has led as much as it has followed, and our family law differs from that of England in many respects. While its basic characteristics are common to Western countries generally, it is in details essentially an independent system.
by Bruce James Cameron, B.A., LL.M., Legal Adviser, Department of Justice, Wellington.