Before FDR Mediation

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Like many things in life, preparation is key to a successful outcome. Here are a few things you should know before proceeding with FDR mediation.

Is there a threat of harm to you and / or your children?

If you or your children are at any risk of domestic violence, call the Police on 111 right away.

The following organisations can also support you:

  • Women’s Refuge - phone 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 (24 hours a day, 7 days)
  • Shine - national helpline call free 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm, 7 days)

When domestic violence is involved, no one expects a victim to have to sit down with the other party face to face in an FDR mediation. If you have been the victim of domestic violence your FDR mediator will refer your case straight to the Family Court. You will not need to take part in FDR mediation.

We recommend that you get a Family Lawyer involved to help you and your children. You could be entitled to Legal Aid.  Please see the Ministry of Justice website for more information and to check eligibility.

What if you or your child’s other parent (or guardian) is unable to take part in FDR mediation, or is unwilling?

If you or your ex-partner (or child’s guardian) is in prison, living overseas and cannot attend, or is simply unwilling to participate in FDR mediation, you will still need to apply for FDR mediation so that a mediator can complete a Preliminary Assessment (including Pre-Mediation where appropriate) with both parties. If the mediator is satisfied that FDR mediation is unsuitable, the mediator will then give you the required form (‘s12 form’) which means you can go straight to the Family Court.

You can choose to sort your own family arrangements privately, without the need for FDR mediation

If you are able to agree on care and contact arrangements together, and you do not need help from a third party, then there is nothing more that you need to do. 

This is called a Private Parenting Agreement.  For more information on Parenting Plans, please see the Ministry of Justice website.

You can make your Private Parenting Agreement enforceable by law by getting a Consent Order from the Family Court. 

When you are considering going to Family Court, we recommend that you speak to a Family Law specialist. You may also qualify for free legal aid. Please see the Ministry of Justice website for more information and to check eligibility.

Please note that the FDR Centre is unable to provide you with legal advice.

Consider ‘Parenting Through Separation’

Before you embark on FDR mediation, we recommend that you complete a Parenting Through Separation course. This is a free parenting information programme that has been used by thousands of families to help deal with separation.

The programme, administered by the Ministry of Justice, is usually broken into two sessions of about two hours (held on different days or on the same day).

The sessions offer a mix of advice, discussion and practical examples, with the aim of helping you to manage conflict and help your children through separation. You are not expected to attend with your ex-partner and the provider will ensure they are booked on a different course date.

Find out more about applying on the Ministry of Justice website.

Write down your ideal parenting arrangements

During this time, emotions may be running high and sometimes it can be hard to think straight, so writing your ideas down about how you think your parenting arrangement should work, can help. This way, if you continue through to FDR mediation, you can discuss your written objectives with your mediator when he/she assesses your situation.

Understand the FDR process

It's important to understand how FDR mediation can work for you. This website has lots of information we recommend reading. You may also find this downloadable chart helpful: FDR Centre process chart (printable PDF).

Further information can also be found on the Ministry of Justice website