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Family Dispute Resolution

Relationship breakdowns, family separation or divorce is one of the most difficult things a family or whānau can face.

Parents or guardians may disagree on things such as day-to-day care, contact arrangements, choosing a school or child care and what happens with the family home. This can be distressing for everyone, particularly children/tamariki.

Family Justice Reforms

In March 2014 the Ministry of Justice introduced the Family Justice Reforms.  The reforms provide more support for parents, guardians, family and whānau to reach out-of-court agreements about care arrangements for their children .


Prior to the Family Justice Reforms, families who have not been able to agree on childcare arrangements following a separation or divorce went to the Family Court. This was an extremely stressful time for the parents, carers and in particular, the children.

However, the new approach introduced as part of the reforms  aims to reduce stress on families by avoiding, wherever possible, the delays, conflict and expense that court proceedings can include. It also ensures the court – when it is needed – is focussed on vulnerable people and more serious matters. For example, families where domestic violence is an issue.

Through the reforms, families are now supported to reach out-of-court agreements through the Family Dispute Resolution service and Parenting through Separation course.

Family Works has been selected by the Ministry of Justice to support this initiative by becoming a supplier of the Family Dispute Resolution service.  This mediation service gives you the opportunity to work with a Family Works accredited mediator to reach agreement on child care arrangements. 


How does Family Dispute Resolution work?

Family Works’ Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) service helps families reach agreement on parenting arrangements after a separation or divorce, without the need to go to court.

The process is much less stressful for everyone involved, especially the children, and also frees up the Family Court to handle the most serious cases, such as those where domestic violence is an issue.

Anyone who is involved in a dispute relating to care of a child can take part in Family Dispute Resolution.  Most of the time this is parents who are separating, but sometimes it may involve extended family, whānau or guardians.

Parenting through Separation

Family Works highly recommends you complete a free Parenting through Separation course before taking part in the FDR mediation service. The programme gives you practical tools and information to help you focus on what’s best for your children when you separate. You can read more about Parenting through Separation here.

Family Dispute Resolution 

You can register for Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) mediation before or after attending Parenting through Separation. Following the registration, a mediator will meet with all parties involved in the dispute individually for a preliminary assessment.  Sometimes your mediator will refer you to preparatory coaching or to a Parenting through Separation course.  The FDR mediation process is different for every family. However, your Family Works mediator will help you make decisions that are in the best interests of your children. Read more about the Family Dispute Resolution process on our FDR website.

Family Works’ approach to FDR: it’s all about the kids!

At Family Works, our vision is for Aotearoa New Zealand to be the best place in the world to grow up; a place where all children are safe, families are strong and communities are connected.

Family Works’ services focus on the family and whānau because we know it’s only when the adults in a child’s life are struggling, that the children are hurt and/or neglected. When families, whānau and communities are strong and resilient, our children will be safe.

Our trained Family Works mediators will help the adults going through the Family Dispute Resolution process to focus on their children’s needs when discussing parenting arrangements, and will provide parents with the tools to help them resolve any parenting disputes that may arise in the future.

For more information

For more information about Family Works Family Dispute Resolution service offered from Taranaki to Southland visit our website – or call the team on 0800 337 100