Your FDR application has been submitted and a mediator appointed to your case. To get the most out of the process, we recommend that you take the time to do a few things to prepare.
First things first: talk with your children
Keeping a calm and open dialogue with your children is very important. Ask them how they feel, and where appropriate, how they think care and contact arrangements could work. Show them you are listening to them.
Try to keep your ‘adult’ emotions out of discussions. Keep your children out of parental (or wider family) conflicts.
If you feel your child’s views should be taken into consideration, make sure to let your FDR mediator know before the session. You may also want to consider using FDR Centre's Child Inclusive Mediation service. This service was developed to allow children to talk about what is happening to/in their family, to hear their perspectives, and to provide parents with feedback as to how their children are coping with their separation to help the parents make better decisions that are in their children's best interests.
Visit the Ministry of Justice website for guidance on supporting your family during separation
No doubt you will need support to guide your children through a constructive separation. The Ministry of Justice website provides helpful information, tips, and brochures for parents.
Write down how you think care and contact arrangements might work best for your children.
It is sometimes difficult for us to think straight when our emotions are running high – this is normal. Presenting your thoughts clearly on paper can help.
We suggest jotting down your ideal care and contact outcomes. It will help to give you clarity, and to help you to articulate your thoughts clearly when you are in the mediation session. You can use this checklist to help you prepare.
Know what happens in a mediation session
Make sure there are no surprises on the day and that you understand the process, your rights and obligations to every other party and the mediator.
To find out more about the structure around the FDR mediation process, read Our Rules.
To find out more about rights and responsibilities of participants, read Our Protocol.
Consider Conflict and Communication Coaching, or Preparatory Counselling
You can voluntarily choose to complete Conflict and Communication Coaching or Preparatory Counselling before your mediation, or your mediator may recommend it. At the FDR Centre you can choose a local professional, or your mediator may recommend someone.
The aim of Conflict and Communication Coaching is to help you manage family and relationship conflict. A professional will help you understand how and why issues arise in your relationship, and will help you to develop skills to improve the way you communicate with family members and ex-partners.
Preparatory Counselling involves sitting down with a professional family counsellor, who is there to assist you deal with any emotion and personal stress you may be experiencing, and help you focus on managing your children through your separation.
You can attend counselling or coaching by yourself, or together with your ex-partner where appropriate.