Family Dispute Resolution

Family Dispute Resolution is a mediation service, which is part of the wider Family Justice system delivered by the Ministry of Justice.

The Family Justice system is designed to help people resolve their care of children issues without the time, expense and stress of going to court. This in turn frees up the courts to focus on cases that most need judicial expertise, especially those involving domestic violence.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a critical part of the government’s family justice system, and is designed to help families reach agreement on parenting arrangements after separation.

Whilst most people reach agreement on parenting arrangements privately, some people need extra help.

You may like to complete the Parenting Through Separation (PTS) course which is a free information programme run by experienced professionals. You can find a list of providers by visiting the Ministry of Justice website.

If you can’t agree arrangements following the PTS course, your next step is to use the Family Dispute Resolution Service.

FDR is a nationwide meditation service that helps people discuss their parenting arrangements. An FDR Provider (mediator) will work with all parties so that a practical agreement can be reached that supports the best interests of the child.

Anyone involved in a dispute about the care of children can go to FDR. Most of the time, this is parents who cannot reach agreement but it may involve extended family, whanau or other people.

Sorting out your own arrangements is better for you and your children. You have more control over the outcome than you would by going to court.

FDR helps you reach agreement on parenting arrangements

FDR involves several steps designed to help you resolve parenting arrangements yourselves. Each family’s path through FDR may be different, depending on a number of factors.


Fair Way FDR mediators will design the mediation process taking into account the specific cultural needs of the parents, the age of the children and whether or not the children will have some direct input into the FDR session(s). Older children may want to participate and consideration needs to be given to who supports the child(ren) in mediation.

To learn more, or to start the FDR process to resolve a dispute about parenting arrangements, please call our FDR Resolution Coordinators on 0800 77 44 20 or email us at Our team understands that this may be a stressful time for you and they will work with you to step through the FDR process.

You can find more information about FDR and other out-of-court services on the Ministry of Justice website.

Fair Way’s FDR service helps you focus on your children

The focus of Fair Way’s FDR service is to help parties build a better understanding of their children’s needs, and a better co-parenting relationship. Our FDR mediators’ emphasis is on building parties’ communication skills, which will help you make your own joint decisions for your children in the future.

Fair Way FDR mediators will help you focus on:

  • children’s need to have a safe and secure household — physically, financially and psychologically
  • the needs of your children, recognising that children are individuals and have specific needs related to their specific circumstances
  • reality testing the decisions you are making to see how those decisions will impact on your children at every level
  • your children’s needs, so you can develop a civil co-parenting relationship, and your children can have a strong relationship with each parent and with their extended family
  • finding arrangements that will encourage both of you to have quality time with the children
  • the different needs of the children depending on their age – e.g. the need of very young children to see parents frequently; the need for older children to spend time with peers
  • providing you with skills to use in the future if disputes arise

Call us on 0800 77 44 20 and talk to one of our specialist FDR Resolution Coordinators.

Who needs to go to FDR?

If there is any risk to you or the children, or you need urgent help you do not need to attend FDR. In these circumstances you should contact 111 or a family lawyer immediately.

FDR is for people who are unable to agree on parenting arrangements after separation and in most situations FDR must be completed prior to going to the Family Court.

On the Ministry of Justice website, you can download a parenting plan that helps step you through the types of issues you may wish to discuss. You do not need to attend FDR if you are able to agree on care arrangements.

You may also have to attend a Parenting Through Separation course and you can find providers of this course on the Ministry of Justice website.

How long does the FDR process take?

We will work with you to arrange an FDR session that suits all parties. You can expect this to happen within 4 – 6 weeks unless you tell us you need it more quickly.

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