Just imagine… instead of Family Court dramas … instead of kids caught in the middle of angry, hurting, anxious, scornful parents who used to love each other … there was still a way to work things out to suit the children … to keep their lives intact … to help them grow even while their parents were no longer together…

Or even to help parents who never lived together, who produced a child by mistake, who now have the chance of a lifetime to get things right as parents…

And what about the grandparents? or other extended  family?

Let’s talk about it.

The legal principles are mostly common sense although they may still come as a surprise. (Check your assumptions.)

Practical tools can help – information about child development, parenting plans that suit different age groups, communication tools.  Plus document drafting, letter writing, negotiation, whatever works.

Parenting / guardianship issues – Care of Children Act?

Some government funding is available for legal advice and – if appropriate – mediation – and preparation for mediation (income test applies).  Also for help with court documents.

Legal aid (financial test applies) may be available for court proceedings if needed.

Full legal representation is available for court proceedings, where permitted by law. Alternatively, limited-scope representation / unbundled services (you choose which work Cheryl does and you do the rest yourself).

Care and protection issues – Oranga Tamariki?

‘Legal aid’ may be available if court proceedings are necessary or have started.

Whatever else you do, keep your cool.

With ‘care and protection’ issues: (a) is there a real risk of harm to the children? (b) if so, can the parents adequately protect the children from that harm? (c) if not, can the wider family adequately protect the children from that harm? (d) if not, Oranga Tamariki needs to intervene. See more information here, about s67 declarations and ‘care and protection’ issues.

Mediation / Family Dispute Resolution / collaborative practice / private experts

Problems can be resolved without needing a court hearing or a judge’s decision.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a well designed, specialist mediation service for parenting and guardianship disputes.

Private mediation can be used for disputes not covered by FDR.

Preparation for Mediation (PFM) can be used to prepare for FDR or for other forms of mediation. This is provided through FairWay Resolution Ltd.

Other forms of preparation for mediation exist, including workbooks which Cheryl can provide.

Collaborative practice is a specialist dispute-resolution process in which parties opt out of court involvement in favour of a team approach to problem-solving, using specially trained professionals (including lawyers) to help.

Privately-retained specialists can help with parenting-plan recommendations, co-ordination, and coaching.  They can also make binding decisions, if parents choose.

Psychologists and counsellors can help with emotional issues and communication skills.

There are many options that do not require adversarial court proceedings.


* ‘Kiwilaw’ is the trading name of Kiwilaw Mediation and Advocacy Ltd.

(Page updated 23 May 2018)