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“How do I resolve this before Christmas?”

November 28, 2016

With only four weeks until the holiday season, do you still not have a confirmed agreement about how the children will split the holidays between you and your ex? Have you tried discussing it together, even recruiting family or lawyers to try to help broker an agreement but to no avail? Given my previous comments about how unlikely it is to be able to get Court time urgently before Christmas, you may be feeling slightly panicked about how and whether this issue is going to be resolved.

Never fear – there are other options for resolving parenting issues as quickly as possible before the holidays. I’ve previously blogged about Mediation and Collaborative Practice as alternatives to Court. When there are issues to be resolved urgently, these processes can be accessed and worked through quicker and more cost effectively than court proceedings can. Both processes have a focus on the future and on your children. These processes come with the added bonus that each are focussed on achieving resolution without inflaming relations between you and your ex. How perfect is that for the holiday season?!

To undertake Collaborative Practice, you will each need to engage a lawyer who is trained in the process. You can find collaboratively trained lawyers here. Engaging a collaborative lawyer and arranging a collaborative meeting can still likely occur before the holidays if you get things underway now. Collaborative Practice is focused on finding solutions that meet the future needs of you, your ex and your children in a respectful, dignified way. Your lawyers are there to advise you and support you through the process. Forget what you’ve seen on television courtroom dramas – collaborative lawyers are trained to facilitate the process in a way that is mindful of the future co-parenting relationship you will need to share and which allows you to find more creative solutions than the Court may well be able to impose.

A mediator may well be able to meet with you and your ex relatively quickly if you initiate mediation now. The mediator will guide you both through a discussion about the issues, help you consider the options and put your children’s needs front and centre. The mediator cannot decide what will happen for you and your children – that rests with you. I like to think of my role of mediator as being like the GPS in your car. I can guide you to a destination but ultimately you are in the driver’s seat and choose where to go and how to get there! In New Zealand, mediation can be accessed in one of the following ways:

  • contacting a mediator privately. You can find mediators through the Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society.
  • Contacting the Family Dispute Resolution Centre in Auckland.
  • Your local FDR supplier, particularly if you believe you qualify for government funded mediation. FairWay and FamilyWorks are good starting points.

The holiday season is said to be the season of peace and goodwill. I urge you to choose to use a resolution process that encourages both those things – and avoids Court delays!

shutterstock_352783865Want to look further into Collaborative Practice or Mediation? The Family Lawyer, Selina Trigg, is an experienced mediator and Collaborative Lawyer so give her a call on (09) 297 2010 to discuss what option may be appropriate for your situation.

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