How FDR mediation works

FDR mediation is a process that enables you to talk with the other party in a confidential and safe environment. The FDR mediator will discuss with you how the mediation is set up and who can attend so that a process can be designed to meet your family’s circumstances.

The role of the mediator

The FDR mediator won’t make a decision about a family dispute. They will help you to work on resolving the dispute between you and the other person or people who care for your children. The FDR mediator is there to help you focus on the needs of your children so that you can make good decisions about your children’s future. The FDR mediator will not try to get you and your partner back together again, or make judgements about who is right or wrong.

During the mediation you may come to full or partial resolution or you may not agree at all. In any situation the mediator will advise you of the next steps available to you. You can use the FDR hours available to you over a 12-month period.

Important issues to decide on during your mediation

The FDR mediator will work with you to clarify the issues you wish to discuss and help you generate possible solutions.

After your discussions, the FDR mediator will help you draw up a parenting plan which may include:

  • how much time the children will spend with each of you
  • contact arrangements for the other parent or care-giver, while the children are in your care. This may also include how the children will be changed over from one parent or caregiver to another
  • how the children will be involved in special occasions, for example birthdays, Christmas, mothers’/fathers’ days
  • how the children’s holidays will be arranged
  • which school the children will attend
  • health matters
  • religious and cultural matters.

During the mediation, everyone will have time to talk, to consider suggestions, to take a break, and to talk individually to the FDR mediator before making final decisions.

The FDR mediator will help you write up the parenting plan into a mediated agreement and if you are happy with it, you will be asked to sign it.

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

What happens if you reach agreement at mediation and one of you changes your mind afterwards? Is your agreement legally enforceable?

The FDR mediator will work with you and the other party to ensure that any agreement you reach is likely to work. You are able to keep this agreement private (between parties), or you can make an application to the Court to have your agreement turned into a Court Order.

To turn an agreement into a Court Order, the Judge has to be satisfied that the agreement is in the best interests of your children. Once an agreement is turned into a Court Order it is legally enforceable.

If you’re eligible for government funding, you can use the Family Legal Advice service before going to court. You can find a Family Legal Advice provider by going to the Ministry of Justice website or calling 0800 2 Agree (0800 224 733).

Sometimes people change their mind after mediation. It may be possible that you and the other party are able to discuss and resolve any further issues that occur after mediation. If this is not possible then you can choose to return to mediation.

A three month stand-down period will apply from the time that that you complete your initial mediation. This period is to provide you and the other party with an opportunity to see how well your agreement is working day-to-day and to settle into any arrangements. If, at the end of this period there are further issues that you and the other party cannot resolve you can return to mediation. If, one party is eligible for fully Government-funded mediation, and the other isn’t and you return for further mediation after the three-month period, the unfunded party does not pay again.

Can you check the agreement with your lawyer before signing it?

You can get legal advice at any step during the mediation process.

You can find a family legal advice service lawyer by going to the Ministry of Justice website or call 0800 2 Agree (0800 224 7332).

What happens if you don’t come to agreement?

Usually people come to some agreement in mediation. If you do not resolve any or all of the issues that you need to resolve, the FDR mediator will talk with you and the other party about what the next steps available to you. The FDR mediator will give you a copy of an FDR form that says that you have attended mediation. It will also document if you have reached agreement on any of the issues, or if you have not been able to agree. You can then make an application to the Family Court if you want to. You will need to attach this form when filing your court forms.

How will special cultural needs/disability/language problems be accommodated?

During the first assessment, the FDR Resolution Coordinator will assess you to make sure FDR is suitable for your situation. During this assessment, we will find out any special requirements you may have. We will do our best to make the mediation process as easy as possible for everyone to participate.

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