Highlight: Family violence incidents can exempt one from FDR participation

A parent may also file proceedings in Family Court right away if a child's safety is at risk

Highlight: Family violence incidents can exempt one from FDR participation

The parents or guardians involved in family disputes are generally required to go through a family dispute resolution (FDR) mediation process before filing proceedings in Family Court, but there are some exceptions to the rule.

Family violence is one such exception, as is when the safety of a child is already at risk. In this case, a party may seek an urgent parenting order that could enable them to bypass FDR mediation.

In normal cases, however, a party may file a proceeding with the Family Court 12 months after they have completed the mediation process. A party may also file in court if, following a trial period, they are dissatisfied with the arrangements determined during the FDR process.

Nonetheless, the court will have discretion to decide whether a challenge made against a mediation outcome is appropriate or not. For instance, a party may simply have changed their mind, or they may feel that they were pushed into agreeing with an arrangement.

During FDR mediations, an independent mediator is appointed to assist parents and guardians with the process. The mediator should have received approval from the New Zealand Law Society, the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand or the Association of Dispute Resolvers.

Before commencing the formal mediation process, the mediator meets with each party separately to talk about the dispute. The mediator may also provide counselling or conduct a preparation session as necessary; moreover, the mediator will aid the parties in developing skills to settle other disputes in the future.

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