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Mediation - Family Court

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Mediation Conferences in the Family Court started in 1981.

Prior to that date, all Family Court disputes in the Family Court were dealt with in a private Court but in a fairly formal setting with one spouse giving evidence first and being cross examined, and then the other spouse giving evidence and being cross examined.

There were few chances to refer the couple to counselling or to have an informal discussion on the issues before a Judge.

We have progressed a great deal in our legal procedures and, even in the Criminal Court, we have Status Hearings and in the Civil Court we have Judicial Settlement Conferences.

These have only been recent additions to our criminal and our civil procedure.

However, the Mediation Conference in the Family Court has now been with us for some 20 years. Either party, or the Court on its own order,  can order a Mediation Conference between the parties which is chaired by a Family Court Judge. The parties can have their lawyers present with the leave of the Court.

We tell you "How To" below and give you the details of the relevant Rules of the Court.

Some Judges have different practices around the country. In some centres lawyers are generally not part of the mediation process and in other centres they are always present.

However, the Judge very much takes control of the mediation conference and the lawyers are there to assist only on a relatively minor basis.

There are many different styles in the Mediation Conference depending on the Judge but usually the Judge will try and identify the issues and try and mediate a consensus decision on all issues.

The Judge might even be able to settle the matter by way of Consent Orders.

No bullying takes place and, if the matter cannot be settled at the Mediation Conference, then the Judge who held the Mediation Conference might not be the Judge who ultimately has to judge the final hearing.

The Family Court aims to help people to sort out their differences themselves.

When one party applies for a separation, custody or an access order, both parties will usually be referred to counsell

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I was really helped by this topic, particular the instant link to at least 25 recent reported decisions of the Family Court. It really helps those who don't know how to look up this stuff. Thanks . . . Kathryn - Balclutha April 2006"

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My partner and I found all your family sites really good. We are fighting a maintenance and custody dispute with his ex and we cannot get legal aid so we are trying to go it alone and your site really helps. The judge actually commented on our documents saying that they were good. Thanks again . . . . Tuia"

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"Well worth reading. I don't think I will have any more kids!! Louise J Auckland March 2007"
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"I did my own documents and got before a Judge and got my own order for protection. I reckon I did it faster then my lawyer last time I need such an order two years ago.
Thank you . . . . Sandie (not my real name)"

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"Well worth reading. I don't think I will have any more kids!! Louise J Auckland March 2007"
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"Hi, what is the success of wives asking for spousal support today? is it a common application or is it becoming too rare because there is DPB available and also because the system is changing and not favoring this type of maintenance anymore?? I just like to have a rough idea if I should pursue this. I've recently been made redundant, am getting no child maintenance and my ex says that I wont be able to get anything anyway as his business is off shore...Any help will be great thanks.

Netlaw replies: It is not common because the DPB is well above what most partners could afford, and still maintain themselves. But in financially well off families spousal maintenance is a runner, particularly until a matrimonial property division provides the partner in need with a large lump sum. Then, the need for extra maintenance dissipates. Apply for a benefit immediately and then apply also to the Family Court for an order for spousal maintenance. If the orders you receive amount to LESS than the DPB then that money goes towards the benefit, not on top. But if your order is MORE than the benefit then you just go off the benefit and take the sum awarded."

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"I did my own documents and got before a Judge and got my own order for protection. I reckon I did it faster then my lawyer last time I need such an order two years ago.
Thank you . . . . Sandie (not my real name)
"

"Good helpful information and tips on all of your family law topics topics. Keep it coming Netlaw. Judi - Invercargill"
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"My wife is claiming spousal maintenace. She lives in the family home and is a qualified secondary school teacher with a degree. We dont have dependent children. Do you think she is entitled to maintenance?

Netlaw replies: No. She would not get spousal maintenance UNLESS she was unable to work because of some illness. IF you had supported her during the relationship, and she did not work even though qualified, she can argue that you should continue to support her now, but that argument would be unlikely to succeed."

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