Frequently asked questions

We aim for your first mediation meeting to occur within 7 weeks of registering for Family Works FDR services.

Most parties then reach full agreements within three months (going through the Family Court takes much longer.) Cases remain open for one year so that if you need to return to adapt or modify the plan agreed that is possible.

In any twelve month period, all parties are able to access up to 12 hours of professional help, irrespective of their funding situation. These 12 hours may be used for Coaching, meeting with children (Child Consultation) and Family Mediation meetings.

FDR is for people who are unable to agree on day-to-day care arrangements for their children without support.

FDR mediation must be tried before Family Court, and is usually the most effective solution for most situations. Where there are concerns about safety, the Family Court can then be involved without 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.

The process is free if you qualify for Legal Aid for Family Dispute Resolution from the Ministry of Justice. Please visit our Costs and Funding page for more information or call us on 0800 737 65 83.

Family Mediation usually doesn’t include lawyers. FDR is an out-of-court process, so family mediation does not require a lawyer. Some of our mediators are practicing 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.

This legal advice has two clear functions – one is to assist parties in understanding their rights, responsibilities and options. The second is to assist with the completion of Court forms if that is required. You can access this free service (if eligible) once over a 12 month period.

It’s not something we recommend. However, if you are paying a lawyer already they may be able to attend the mediation as your support person.

Your mediator and the other party must agree to this and your lawyer can not represent you during mediation. They will need to be present without active participation and hold the same status as a ‘support person’.

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.

If you have a particular Family Mediator in mind, we will endeavour to accommodate this request.

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

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

The FDR 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.

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.

Your Family Mediator can refer you for a 40-minute coaching session. This is free if you or any other party qualify for funding from the Ministry of Justice.

If you or your children are at risk from abuse or family violence, mediation is not likely to be safe or appropriate. The Family Court may be the right option here.

If you are unsafe or have serious concerns, a Family Lawyer can help you access the Family Court quickly.

For immediate help, you need to:

Attendance at FDR is required 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 direct you back to Family Mediation. You will then need to complete the process before your court proceedings can move forward.

We offer mediation services across the lower North Island from Taranaki to Wellington and throughout the South Island. We offer mediation from our community meeting rooms or via video-calling. You mediator will talk with you about the most appropriate meeting space.

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.

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.

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.

It is important that you are comfortable with the plan before you sign it. Many mediators break the mediation into parts so that you have some time to reflect on each stage.

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.

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

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

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

Need help?

We’ll help to determine what services are right for you and your family.