How does mediation work?

Mediation is a process that enables all parties involved to talk in a confidential and safe environment

The mediator starts the process by meeting separately with all parties involved – parents, caregivers or others who have a direct interest in the child. Then they design a mediation process that takes into account the family’s cultural needs.

Your mediation

  • Mediation sessions usually happen in two parts

    Your first meeting with the mediator is one-on-one. That’s where you discuss what you need to prepare for the joint session/s – including preparation for mediation coaching. The mediator also discusses what to expect from the process.

    The second part of mediation is a joint meeting, or series of meetings, that may take a number of hours. These meetings can be in person, on the phone or online.

    During those sessions, our mediators focus on communication and guide the conversation so you can reach decisions about your children and your parenting. They also aim to enable you to make your own joint decisions in the future, without the need for a mediator.

    You may come to full or partial resolution during joint mediation, or you may not agree at all. In any situation, the mediator lets you know the next steps available. 

    Remember, you have 12 months over which to use the 12 hours allotted to you through Fair Way’s FDR service.

  • Talk to us about your needs

    We have a Tumeke Whānau Whanui mediation approach, based on Māori values.

    You can read a case study about this approach. Please talk to your coordinator about this or any other cultural needs or values we must meet.

What the mediator does – and what they don’t do

The mediator doesn’t make decisions about a family dispute. Their role is to help you resolve the dispute between you and the others involved.

The mediator is there to help you focus on your children’s needs so you can make good decisions about their future and agree a parenting plan. The mediator doesn’t try to get you and your partner back together, nor make judgements about who is right or wrong.

The FDR mediators help you focus on the following considerations:

  • You children’s need to have a safe and secure household — physically, financially and psychologically.
  • The unique needs of your children, recognising that children are individuals and have specific needs related to their circumstances.
  • Reality-testing your decisions to see how they would impact your children.
  • Developing a civil co-parenting relationship, and ensuring your children can have a strong relationship with each parent and extended family/whānau.
  • Finding arrangements that encourage and allow all involved to have quality time with the children.
  • The children’s different needs depending on their age – such as the need of very young children to see parents frequently, and the need for older children to spend time with peers.
  • Providing you with skills to use if future disputes arise.

The mediator then works with you all to clarify the issues you want to discuss and help you generate possible solutions.

Agreeing a parenting plan

Towards the end of your mediation, the FDR mediator helps you draw up a parenting plan based on what you have agreed.

A parenting plan generally includes these details:

  • How much time the children will spend with each of you.
  • Contact arrangements for the other parent or caregiver while the children are in your care, and perhaps handover arrangements.
  • How the children are involved in special occasions – for example, birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
  • How the children’s holidays are arranged.
  • Which schools the children attend.
  • How their health matters are dealt with.
  • How religious and cultural matters are respected.

What to take to mediation

Your mediator will talk to you about what to bring to mediation. Mostly that’s to prove your identity, so bring one of:

  • current driver’s licence
  • current passport
  • 18+ card.

You can always check with your mediator or coordinator if you are not sure.