The first step in the process is the FDR Assessment. In this step, your mediator will speak with both parties separately to assess your suitability for FDR Mediation and to discuss options for your process. Your mediator may also suggest at this time that you complete the Ministry of Justice Parenting Through Separation course.
The Parenting Through Separation (PTS) course is administered by the Ministry of Justice, and offers education and tools to help you focus on the best outcomes your children during separation.
PTS programmes are four hours long and are either completed in two two-hour sessions, or one four-hour session. In most cases, PTS providers will recommend that separating parties attend separate sessions. Other guardians, such as grandparents or extended family, may also attend.
For more information on the Parenting Through Separation course, see the Ministry of Justice website.
If, following the FDR Assessment, your mediator determines that FDR Mediation would be appropriate, you will then go on to participate in the FDR Mediation process itself.
Your FDR Mediation may consist of separate and joint sessions. You may also make use of our Preparation for Mediation and/or Voice of the Child services. Your mediator will talk you through these options and help you to agree a process which will best meet your needs.
Ultimately, your mediator will design a process with you where both parties are able to work with together to come up with a Parenting Plan. Everyone will have a chance to have their say and the mediator will not make any decisions for the parties. Your mediator may make suggestions but any decisions made at FDR Mediation are the parties’.
The Parenting Plan may include things like day-to-day care arrangements, religious instruction, birthdays, choosing schools, managing school holiday care, and extra-curricular activities.
The mediator’s role is to help you make decisions that are in the best interests of your children. They will not try to get couples back together, or make judgements about who is right or wrong. They are there to facilitate the discussion and help you draw up a formal plan; they will not make any decisions for you.
Keep in mind that a session may take two – three hours, but you will have a few breaks in between.
Subject to certain conditions you may bring a support person, and any special cultural, disability and language needs will also be accommodated.
You can also get legal advice at any step during the mediation process over the phone or on breaks, and sometimes lawyers may be allowed into the room if the mediator determines it is appropriate. Your mediator will talk to both parties in advance about lawyers being present.