It is a process where the mediator provides a safe space for members of a family / whanau to come together to work on resolving a problem / disagreement / dispute.
The Government funds a process called Family Dispute Resolution – FDR which provides families with 12 hours of mediation assistance per annum.
The Government funded FDR process sits alongside the Court process.
Families have the choice of going to Court where a Judge decides the dispute based on the interpretation of the law or they can choose to engage in mediation to try and reach their own family centered solution or outcome.
Usually family disagreements arise during separation and are around issues of care and guardianship of the child or children.
Mediators focus on strengths and work with family to draw on the strength of each family member. It is a voluntary process and participants are assisted to achieve active engagement so that any outcome / resolution reached is owned and authentic to the particular family situation.
The process is fluid and the mediator utilizes tools along the way. There are no written briefs, letters or affidavits exchanged in order to establish facts. It is rather a process that provides family with an experience of having been in a place of feeling stuck to moving to a place of becoming unstuck.
Family members are supported to gain greater understanding of one another’s needs, including the children’s.
The aim is to achieve a Parenting Plan, usually written, that provides the family with a Plan going forward. The Plan can be on an interim trial basis or it can be a longer-term plan.
Part of the process can be the involvement of children via a child inclusion specialist.
The mediation process provides participants with a blueprint for resolution of disputes. Having experienced being able to freely express oneself in a safe space and also being able to listen without feeling the need to justify one’s own viewpoint provides people with the experience of listening and gaining understanding in a non-threatening place. This in turn enables people to use their brain capacity to think constructively and problem solve.