FAQs

General Information

Do I need Family Dispute Resolution?

FDR is for people who are unable to agree on day-to-day care arrangements for their children. If you try to apply directly to the Family Court, in most you will first need to attempt FDR (except in some cases of violence and abuse).

What do we decide on in Family Mediation?

The Family Mediator will work with you on the issues you wish to discuss. They will help you draw up a parenting plan which may include: where the children will live, contact and changeover arrangements, how to manage special occasions like birthdays and other celebrations, childcare and holiday arrangements, which schools the children attend health, and medical treatment, religious and cultural matters.

How long does the FDR process take?

In most cases you’ll be having your first face-to-face Family Mediation meeting within 4 weeks of registering your application for Family Mediation. Most parties reach full and final agreements within 3 months of first registering a case, but cases can remain open for up to one year.

How much does it cost?

The process is free if you qualify for Legal Aid for Family Dispute Resolution from the Ministry of Justice. Please visit our Fees page for more information or call us on 0800 RESOLVE (0800 737 6583).

Do I need a lawyer?

Family Mediation usually doesn’t include lawyers.

If you wish to get legal advice from a family lawyer before, during, or after Family Mediation, you may be able to use Family Legal Advice Service. It’s free if you are eligible for Legal Aid for FDR. To find out more, visit the Ministry of Justice website or contact 0800 2 AGREE.

I already have a lawyer. Can they attend the mediation with me?

If you’re paying for your own lawyer, they may be able to attend the mediation if the other party and the Family Mediator agree. However, they are not able to represent you during the Family Mediation sessions.

Who decides who my Family Mediator will be?

All Family Mediators are trained and qualified to help resolve family disputes. Our service centre coordinators will discuss any special requirements you have and match you with a Family Mediator in your area, wherever possible.

What do I need to take to Family Mediation?

Absolutely nothing, other than maybe some notes you’ll have prepared after your Coaching session, if you choose to have a coaching session.

Where are the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) services available?

Family Works Northern provides FDR services across the upper North Island: in Northland from Kaitaia to Whangarei, the Auckland region, in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay including East Coast.

What if the other party is on another part of the country or overseas?

We often undertake Family Mediation with one person sitting with the Family Mediator in one location and the other person connecting remotely by SKYPE, phone or other video conferencing in another location.

Can you help sort out property issues?

The Family Works Resolution Service is primarily for resolving parenting arrangements for your children. You may discuss relationship property at the Family Mediation if your Family Mediator agrees, and if the resolution of a property matter might support your decisions about your children’s care. Any agreements made in Family Mediation about relationship property are not legally enforceable. You must consult your lawyer and/or go to Family Court and apply for a consent order if you want your agreements about property made into a court order.

Attending Family Mediation

Do I have to attend Family Mediation with my ex-partner?

FDR requires all parties to attend. You can discuss any concerns you have with your Family Mediator. They will make sure you are comfortable with the process and that it’s fair for everybody. If necessary you will sit in separate rooms and the Family Mediator will move between each room.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to speak my thoughts and feelings effectively. Where can I get support?

Your Family Mediator can refer you for a 60-minute coaching session. This is free if you or any other party qualify for funding from the Ministry of Justice.

Is Family Mediation advisable for families who have violence or abuse issues?

If you or your children are at risk from abuse or family violence, call 111 or a family lawyer immediately. You may also want to contact Shine, an organisation that helps victims of family violence. You will not have to attend Family Mediation.

Could I go straight to Family Court instead of going through Family Mediation?

Attendance at FDR is compulsory for most people before they’re able to apply to the Family Court, unless violence or abuse is involved in which case mediation may not be necessary or advisable.
If you don’t attempt to engage in FDR when your case is suitable for the service, the Family Court judge may order you back to Family Mediation. You will then need to complete the process before your court proceedings can move forward.

Agreements

Will the Family Mediator force me to agree to something I don’t want?

The Family Mediator will not make decisions for you. The Family Mediator is only there to listen to all points of view and help you reach agreement yourselves. They will help you focus on the needs of your children so that you can make good decisions about your children’s future. The Family Mediator will not try to get you and your partner back together again, or make judgements about who is right or wrong.

What happens after we agree on a plan?

Once you’ve agreed on a plan, the Family Mediator will write it up and ask you to sign it. This is a private agreement, and if it works for you, you don’t need to do anything else.
If you choose to, you can ask the Family Court to turn the agreement into a consent order. This means that if one of you doesn’t comply with what has been agreed upon, you can ask the Family Court to enforce it. Before granting the consent order, the judge will want to be sure that your agreement is in your children’s best interests. The Judge may well want to meet with you before any consents are made.

What happens if we don’t agree on a plan?

You can either try to reach an agreement privately or apply to the Family Court for a judge’s decision. The Family Mediator will give you a form which you will need to show the Family Court. It confirms that you have attended FDR and what the results of your FDR were.

What if I want to change my mind after FDR?

If at any point after you’ve completed FDR, you feel you wish to return, providing you still have hours available (most people are entitled to 12 hours of service in any 12 month period) you can return at any point the FDR process.

Parenting through Separation

How long is the Parenting through Separation course?

The course usually runs over two sessions of two hours each.

Do I have to attend Parenting through Separation courses with my ex-partner?

No, you will not have to attend the same session as your partner.

How much does Parenting through Separation cost?

The Parenting through Separation course is free regardless of your income.