VPS Groups FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

VPS – Virtual Peer Support is an online community support platform provided by Family Dispute Support Services, a registered charity serving communities in need of guidance and support related to relationship breakdowns, family separation, parenting plans, guardianship disputes, and more. Families dealing with separation require a safe space to share their experiences and knowledge with peers.

The primary purpose of the VPS (Virtual Peer Support) Group initiative is to facilitate the self-healing and recovery of parents who are having tough times navigating family separation and the Family Court system. This initiative recognizes that family separation can be an incredibly challenging and emotionally daunting journey for many parents. It often involves stress, conflicts, disagreements, mental health issues, and, in some cases, family violence.

Early intervention and prevention are crucial to minimizing harm and reducing conflict in such situations. Based on our extensive experience working with thousands of parents, the organisers of the VPS groups have found that the most effective support often comes from individuals within the community who have personally gone through similar experiences, achieved their own recovery, and possess a positive outlook.

These individuals, who offer peer support, have a unique ability to share their lived experiences and provide valuable guidance and encouragement to parents currently facing similar challenges. By connecting parents with peers who have successfully navigated family separation, the VPS Group initiative aims to create a supportive community that fosters healing, recovery, and resilience.

There is no manual for family separation, as each family’s circumstances are unique. We firmly believe that there is an urgent need to reduce, prevent, or expedite litigation and high parental conflict as much as possible to minimize harm, not only to parents but, most importantly, to the vulnerable children involved.

Our VPS sessions are provided to the community to collectively acquire, develop, and enhance the skills needed to navigate the family separation journey or the family court system, as the case may be. The aim is to resolve relationship and parental disputes amicably, ideally without resorting to litigation, and to move toward a healthier dynamic in family relationships.

You are able to use your first name or fullnameWe highly recommend only using your first name. Using your first name is enough, at least to help us verify your identity on the participants list. 

Disclosing other parties names or details during the sessions is prohibited. You are able to use fictitious names, different location or gender or ages.

Participants are expected to maintain strict confidentiality regarding any personal information, details, or identifiers of other parties involved in the session.

Disclosure of other parties’ names, addresses, contact information, or any identifying details is strictly prohibited.

You will need a reliable internet connection, a webcam, a microphone, and one of the following devices. Please ensure that your device’s battery is charged before joining.

Laptop or desktop: You can join using an internet browser or the app.
Smartphone or tablet: You can join using the app.
You do not need a Microsoft account to join, unless you are using the app. You can download the app from this link.

Absolutely, you can speak during the VPS group sessions. These groups are interactive. At the beginning of each session, the Group Facilitator may provide information on a specific topic for 10-30 minutes, during which all microphones need to be muted. However, once the facilitator has finished the presentation. Then there will be discussions about the topic. Feel free to request from the Group to start a discussion about a specific topic during the discussion. 
You are welcome to type any questions you may have 

It depends on the number of participants. The VPS Group Facilitator will inform you about the allocated time after determining the number of participants. Typically, each participant will have around 5-15 minutes to speak. This approach ensures fairness and gives everyone an opportunity to express themselves.

We would love to accommodate this, but it’s ultimately up to the Group Facilitator to guide the session. The best way to participate actively is to utilize the “raise hand” option in Teams or type your questions in the chat.

How to Raise Hand in a Microsoft Teams Meeting

The VPS Group Facilitator role is to maintain a respectful and productive atmosphere during the VPS group meetings. Interruptions can disrupt the flow of discussions and hinder effective communication. We encourage all participants to follow VPS Group Facilitator guidelines to ensure a positive meeting experience for everyone. Please do not be offended if the Presenter is going to mute your microphone, if there is any background noise distrupting the meeting. 

If the Group Facilitator is presenting any slides or speaking about about a specific topic. Please keep your microphone muted all the time. During the presentation you can use the chatbox for quick questions: If you have a brief comment or question that doesn’t require immediate attention, you can use the chat feature to type your message. The facilitator or presenter can address it at an appropriate time. Please follow any additional guidelines or instructions provided by the VPS group facilitator. Their role is to ensure the group runs smoothly

After the presentation is done, the group facilitator will set the rules and allow adquete time for each person to speak and others. 

If someone is speaking, no one is allowed to interrupt him/her. The group facilitator can establish ground rules, including allowing each participant to speak without interruption. 

We would love to allow everyone to speak whenever they want, however it is up to the Group Facilitator to lead the group. The best way is to use the “raise hand” option on Teams or type your questions in the chatbox.

You are able to read more about the interruption policy on this link

How to Raise Hand in a Microsoft Teams Meeting

Yes, turning on webcams when you join for the first time would assists in verifying the identity of the participants and minimises the risk of unauthorized access to the VPS group meetings.

To enhance safety and create a secure environment, all participants must enable their webcams, when they join for the first time. Once we verify your identity then you can join during the the following sessions. Webcam usage helps verify participants and fosters a sense of community and connection.


No, there is no fee or obligation of any kind. Our services are provided for free to support individuals and families dealing with family separation and related issues. However, as a registered charitable organization, we do accept voluntary donations (Koha) to help support our services and reach more families in need. Donations can be made on our website >  Donate Online, and they are greatly appreciated but not required to access our services.

“Yes, after signing up, you will receive a weekly automated email reminder between 6 or 7 pm, one day before the group starts. Please check your junk mail folder. You you wish to unsubscribe from the reminders at any time , you can send us an email at support@fdss.org.nz 


  • Mums VPS group meetings conducted online every Tuesday from 8:00 pm to 9:30 on Microsoft Teams
  • Dads VPS group meetings conducted online every Monday from 8:00 pm to 9:30 on Microsoft Teams

No, you do not have to register every time you wish to join the group. You can use the same meeting link that we initially sent you when you signed up. The meeting link will be sent to you with every reminder we will send you. 

  • Mums VPS group meetings conducted online every Tuesday from 8:00 pm to 9:30 on Microsoft Teams
  • Dads VPS group meetings conducted online every Monday from 8:00 pm to 9:30 on Microsoft Teams

There are various group sessions that may suit whanau and circumstances more specifically. Eg, Mums, Dads seprate groups. Each group is run separately. You can view and sign up for different groups here on this link > Events Calendar webpage

No, it is up to you. However, we would prefer to have you join the group every week. We completely understand that sometimes you may be busy with other personal commitments.


You can read the VPS service terms and conditions on this link 

You can read FDSS privacy policy on this link

We will never share your personal information with any third party without your consent. All personal information collected upon registeration are intended for anonymous statistical and funding purposes. 

Usually, the groups run for up to 1.5 hours – it depends on the participants’ availability. 

There is no problem if any of the participants wish to stay longer and have a chat with other peers. However, if you get disconnected then you will not be able to rejoin. The VPS group Facilitator may leave early or stay longer. 

We would prefer if you join on time and stay as long as possible because the Group Facilitator may present some information about a specific topic, and you wouldn’t want to miss that. However, we understand that busy parents have other commitments and work, so it’s ultimately up to you.

The video meeting sessions are hosted on Microsoft Teams. Once you have signed up to attend, you will receive an email with links to join the MS Teams session/s.  Installing the Microsoft Teams App is optional – you can still use your device internet browser, if you wish.

Microsoft Teams is a secure online communication and meeting platform. It offers various security features to protect your data and privacy, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, secure guest access, compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR, and more. Microsoft continually updates and enhances the security of Teams to ensure the safety of its users’ information and communications.
You can join the session from most devices. Contact the team at
support@fdss.org.nz if you need any help to join session.  

All information shared when signing up to attend or while participating in the group discussion are confidential. We do not record, share or publicise any private information discussed or disclosed in meetings. We expect all group discussions and information specific to participants and their situation to remain confidential and within the group. Where court matters or cases are discussed, there is a strict Family Court rule prohibiting the sharing/publishing of any kind of information related to proceedings that may reveal the identities of the parties and/or the children concerned. FDSS may have internal discussions between team members to provide better support or assign time, referrals or material to a participant based on their needs and circumstances Please contact the team at FDSS if you have any queries, concerns or reports related to this policy. You can read our privacy policy in regards to sharing information https://www.fdss.org.nz/privacy-policy/  

No, we do not. All information provided shouldn’t be construed as legal or therapeutic advice in any form, but regarded as generic information and discussion relying only on each individuals’ personal experiences and knowledge. All information, insights and guidance suggested by participants and FDSS team members should only be considered as general community support.  

NO – Unauthorized videotaping or audio recording or distribution or sharing of meeting recordings is strictly prohibited and may result in disciplinary actions. FDSS reserves the right to take appropriate action in the event of a breach of this policy, including but not limited to revoking meeting access or membership.

The VPS group facilitator will maintain open dialogue, respecting differences in opinion, and maintaining non-prejudgmental attitudes during group meetings. 

Participants are encouraged to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions openly and honestly. All attendees, including facilitators and participants, must respect and value diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.

Prejudging or making assumptions about other participants’ viewpoints, backgrounds, or experiences is strictly prohibited.

Participants shall approach discussions with an open mind, refraining from forming judgments based on limited information.

Discrimination, harassment, or any form of offensive behavior based on factors such as race, gender, religion, or other protected characteristics will not be tolerated. Violations of this policy may result in participants being removed from the group.

Upcoming Sessions

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