Family Dispute Resolution

Fair Way supports families through separation

Our specialist Family Dispute Resolution service (FDR) helps families going through separation who need support to create a parenting plan.

About Family Dispute Resolution

  • FDR is the first step if you need some support making a plan for your family. The focus is on building better co-parenting relationships and communication with the assistance of a mediator. It is designed to help you make your own decisions for your children’s future, so you can resolve childcare issues without the time, expense and stress of going to court. Going through the FDR process is also something the Family Court usually requires families to complete before applying to the court.

    Anyone with a dispute relating children’s care can use the service. This includes wider family members, such as grandparents or extended whānau.

    When you use the Fair Way FDR service, one of our qualified and experienced mediators works with all parties to reach a practical co-parenting agreement that supports the best interests of the children or child. Our mediators work with separated families each day, so they understand what you are going through.

    We have highly experienced and accredited family mediators all around Aotearoa New Zealand, so we can arrange a mediation venue near you. Confidentiality is key – what you tell us, stays with us. We assist thousands of families each year and around 80% of people are able to resolve some or all matters with the help of a family mediator. 

    Our service is affordable and may even be free if you qualify for government funding.

    We understand that every situation is different, so contact us on 0800 77 44 20 to see how we can help. FairWay's Family Dispute Resolution service is designed to make a hugely stressful time as safe, easy, and straightforward as possible.

  • Mediation using Fair Way’s FDR service is the first step if you can’t agree on arrangements for your children’s care.

    80% of all family mediations with Fair Way result in some or all matters being resolved.


When to use FDR

Family Dispute Resolution is the first step. You can go to the Family Court, but in most situations you must have already completed Family Dispute Resolution mediation.

Emergency or urgent situations are different. If there’s any risk to you or the children, or you need urgent help, you don’t need to come to mediation. Contact 111 or a family lawyer immediately.

The Family Dispute Resolution process

  • Talk to us

    Contact us to check if mediation is the right option for your situation. Our Family Dispute Resolution service is subsidised for all and may be free if you qualify for government funding – you can ask us. We will answer your questions and walk you through the process.

    Get in touch Process
  • Have a one-on-one meeting

    Once all parties involved in the mediation have agreed on a mediator, each party meets with the mediator individually. This meeting can be on the phone, online or in person.

  • Voice of your child

    Consider ways to represent the views of your child in the process, for example appointing a Voice of Child Specialist who can ensure that your child has input into the arrangements being put in place for them. 


  • Prepare for mediation – optional

    This is a recommended coaching session to help you upskill and prepare for mediation. It can be online or in person. These sessions often focus on good communication, so you can get the most from your mediation.

    Prepare process
  • Mediation

    Meet with all parties, including the mediator, to make a plan for your family. 

    Conciliation Mediation
  • Resolution

    At the end of the mediation sessions there may or may not be an agreement. If you do agree, you can keep that private or apply to have it made into a court order. If you can’t agree, you can apply to the Family Court to hear your dispute.

    Agreement decision

FDR costs

  • The Ministry of Justice subsidises Fair Way’s Family Dispute Resolution service, and it’s free for some families.

    To find out whether you are eligible for a fully funded service call us on 0800 77 44 20 or check the funding table on the Ministry of Justice website.

    If eligible, you can use this form to apply for a free service and send it to

    If you don’t qualify for full funding, you can still access FDR at a subsidised cost of $448.50 per person, including GST. This covers up to 12 hours of services - such as Voice of Child Specialist, Preparation for Mediation and the mediation itself - in each 12-month period.

    However, it’s always free to contact us on 0800 77 44 20 to get an initial assessment.

    Some family situations aren’t suitable for our Family Dispute Resolution service. If so, we can give you an ‘outcome form’ referring your dispute to the Family Court. There’s no charge for this form.

    The 12 hours of the FDR mediation process begin at the first point of contact between each person and their appointed mediator, or with the coach if you arrange a preparation for mediation session.

    If you don’t qualify for funding, you must pay the fee before this first meeting. You can pay online or at a BNZ bank. We will give you a case number and party number – please add them in separate fields. The Resolution Coordinator can also arrange credit card payments by phone.

    The fee is non-refundable, and there’s no refund for partial completion of the process or unused hours.

  • If you don’t qualify for Government funding

    Your Resolution Coordinator will help explain the costs.

    The FDR fee is $448.50 including GST per person. So, if two unfunded people are involved, each person pays $448.50.

    If one has government funding and the other doesn’t, only the unfunded person pays that fee. The other pays nothing.