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Family Dispute Resolution is a mediation service that gives you extra help to reach agreement with your children’s other parent or guardian or anyone else involved in the care of your children.

An impartial mediator runs the session/s, helps you identify the issues and makes sure you each get time to put forward your point of view. The mediator will help you focus on what’s best for your children but won’t force you to agree to anything or make a decision for you.

The mediator may suggest you take part in a preparation for mediation session before Family Dispute Resolution. If you’re feeling stressed or angry, this can help you manage those feelings so you can think more clearly about what arrangements are best for your children.  

If you or your children’s other parent or guardian live in different towns then both mediation and preparation for mediation can be carried out remotely using Skype or similar programmes.

If you’re separating or divorcing, you can also talk about relationship property but only if this helps you agree about the care of your children.

You can take a support person if everyone agrees. You should ask the mediator before the session.

Find a mediator near you

Find out more about what to expect during the sessions

Watch a video about mediation

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Cost of mediation

Check if you can get mediation for free

You may be eligible for funding to cover the cost of Family Dispute Resolution mediation, including preparation for mediation.

You may also qualify for free legal advice from the Family Legal Advice Service.

Use our funding table to find out if you qualify for free mediation and the Family Legal Advice Service

Paying for mediation

If you don’t qualify for full funding, don't worry, the cost of mediation is capped by the government, so you will pay no more than $448.50 for your share of the cost.

Private mediators can set their own prices.

Find a mediator

Find a mediator near you

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When you should take part

Family Dispute Resolution is an effective alternative to going to court to resolve a parenting dispute. It’s cheaper, less stressful and takes less time and it means you still make the decisions regarding your children. 

Most people need to do Parenting Through Separation and try Family Dispute Resolution before they can ask the Family Court to settle their dispute.

Sometimes, taking part in mediation might not be right for your situation. For example, you might need to apply for an urgent Parenting Order because of domestic violence or if your child is at risk or because the other parent is going to take your child overseas without your permission. There may also be power imbalance or cultural barriers which prevent you from taking part effectively. In these cases, the court may exempt you from Family Dispute Resolution. 

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Read about Family Dispute Resolution in Māori, Samoan & simplified Chinese

Family Dispute Resolution – Māori [PDF, 758 KB]

Family Dispute Resolution – Samoan [PDF, 726 KB]

Family Dispute Resolution – simplified Chinese [PDF, 870 KB]

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