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Posted on the: 2nd November, 2017

Protecting children when parents separate

Increasingly families across the lower North Island are using mediation to settle childcare disputes, and it’s having a positive impact on tamariki (children).

The Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) service and Parenting through Separation course offered by Family Works were introduced in 2014 as part of the Family Justice Reforms. The service helps separating couples agree on childcare arrangements without the need to go to court.

The free Parenting through Separation courses, run by Family Works in partnership with Community Law, provide practical advice and information to help focus parents on the needs of their children. It helps parents understand how separation affects children, how to support them and how to communicate with the child’s other parent.

The Family Dispute Resolution mediation service involves separating parents meeting with a trained FDR mediator to discuss and make decisions about childcare arrangements and to draft make a parenting plan. The mediator ensures that everyone has a say and that decisions are focused on the needs of the children. The parenting plan can then be lodged with the Family Court.

The mediation process is different for every family, but it does provide parents with the tools to help them resolve any parenting disputes that may arise in the future. And best of all, it’s proving to be much less time consuming, costly and stressful for everyone, particularly the children.

As well as focusing the process and the decision-making on the children, where possible Family Works mediators will also ensure that children have a say in the decisions being made about them. This is done in a carefully managed way that protects the children from additional stress and upset.

The cost of mediation is set by the government at $448.50 for each parent, however low income families can qualify for further subsidies. The Parenting through Separation programme is free.

Family Works is the social services arm of Presbyterian Support Central. For more information about Family Works Family Dispute Resolution visit www.familydisputeservices.co.nz or call 0800 337 100.