About us

FDSS – Family Disputes Support Services is a not for profit community organisation that is committed to providing support and assistance to parents who are dealing with parental disputes following their relationship breakdown in or out of the Family Court.

We are a group of ordinary community members with very extensive knowledge and experience of helping families to resolve their disputes amicably through mediation or the Family Court system. We have been helping and supporting Kiwi families for over a decade.

Every year, thousands of New Zealand parents navigate their family separation process alone without help or guidance, often leaving their vulnerable children exposed to high parental conflict, mental health illness, suicide and family violence. Many parents have to go through the process alone, struggle to deal with their family separation process, sudden lifestyle changes and prevent their children’s exposure to high parental conflict. Meanwhile, they face other obstacles such as making decisions, and understanding the process of resolving their disputes amicably.

Also, many are forced to represent themselves in the Family Court, seek access to their children, protect themselves and their children from violence, or defend themselves. They are forced to navigate the complex Family Justice system alone without any help and support, often against the professional legal representation of the other party or they may face vexatious litigation from the opposition party.

FDSS was created in response to the demands of many whānau who are going through the family separation process and the Family Court system. Over many decades, thousands and hundreds of Kiwi families have been pleading for help on how to deal with their family separation and understand the Family Court complex processes.

The increase in cuts to legal aid over recent years has meant that thousands more people have to deal with their family court proceedings without any help or guidance. Their access to Justice is limited by how overwhelming the Family Court processes can be to those who have never faced it before, and many struggle to represent themselves effectively in court.

We've been there .. We have done that....

Our experienced coaches provide parents with valuable and realistic insight into the family separation and the Family Court processes. They share great optimism, enthusiasm & positive energy with many parents going through this journey!

Why FDSS ?

For over a decade, our experienced coaches have helped and supported hundreds of parents and families who are dealing with parental disputes in or out of New Zealand Family Court. FDSS coaches are not lawyers but ordinary community individuals with extensive first-hand experience and knowledge of the Family separation process and the Family court as self-represented litigants in their own cases.

Based on our experience and many of our clients’, we strongly believe that it is crucial for parents to seek help and support from individuals with lived experience. Our coaches do it with passion and are eager to help parents understand the process of separation and assist them in their decision-making process during one of the most difficult times in their lives.

Why do we exist ?

Dealing with Family Separation and the Family court proceedings is often a complex and emotional endeavour, that most never expect to encounter, even if they have a lawyer representing them. New Zealand Family Court system processes are adversarial and alienating in nature and have a contradictory mix of legal & psychological aspects. Also, the Family Court is an overloaded and slow system that can be extremely difficult for many parents to navigate while dealing with their sudden lifestyle changes and many other associated stressors.

Sadly, throughout our experience dealing with many whānau , we have witnessed many parents who ended their lives, struggled financially, emotionally, abandoned their children and struggled to get access to their children or protect themselves due to the complexity of the Family Justice System and often due to their lack of knowledge of their rights and the financial difficulties associated.

Our Goal

Children’s best interests come first..

Prevention is the Key !

A strong fence round the top of the cliff, is better than an ambulance down in the valley ! 

Family separation and dealing with the Family court can be a very rough and traumatic experience for many whānau going through the process. It can be extremely detrimental to the whānau & tamariki involved. The best possible course is to safeguard whānau and provide them with assistance and support at several stages of their family separation journey. FDSS delivers wide range of community-whānau focused services geared toward the prevention and intervention of: 

The struggle is real !

In 2008, a Principal Family Court Judge had called for more support and help for families going through the family court system . Also, another Judge had attacked the Family laws  which tended to alienate the parents, generally fathers, who had lost custody and the judge had highlighted that the family laws lacks in sophistication.

Additionally, the 2018/2019 findings of the independent panel who examined the 2014 changes of the family court were very concerning. First, the panel chairperson Ms. Noonan had called for an urgent change in the family court system and laws, also she mentioned that the current family court system “is not fit for purpose”, she also said that the same issues had been raised in 1987 and she was shocked that so little had changed and she heard from many people that they felt being treated as criminals in the family court. Many parents we’ve known ended their lives or abandoned their children after despair

New Zealand Family law is a matter of Social Justice

Based on the evidence, and the systemic delays occurring in New Zealand Family court system. FDSS team is constantly working to help accomplish change of the way how families’ disputes are dealt with in an adversarial, complex and expensive manner that is detrimental to our tamariki and their whānau. Our goal is primarily focused that whānau should be empowered to resolve their disputes amicably out of the court, unless there are serious health and safety concerns. 

As a part of our mission, our coaches are regularly involved in making submissions and petitions to the Parliament and the Government to support a better change to New Zealand Family Laws and to influence the Legislation passed by the parliament.

Diversity is our strength

FDSS works with parents and families of all sorts; mothers, fathers, step-parents, and grandparents from several cultures and ethnicities living in New Zealand. We understand and respect the diverse cultural beliefs and values of families and their social structure in New Zealand.

During the process, we always take into account the diversity of New Zealand families and family groups, the needs, values and beliefs of Mäori as Tangata Whenua, Pacific Peoples, Asian, Indian, African, Middle eastern and various ethnic and cultural groups in New Zealand. Through the process, we help our clients maintain and enhance the resilience and strengths of their families’ values, according to their culture and beliefs.

Sound like something you want to be part of ?

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