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AMINZ welcomes new role for mediation in family disputes


MEDIA RELEASE August 2, 2012

AMINZ welcomes new role for mediation in resolving family disputes

The Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ) today welcomed the government’s announced reforms to how a majority of family disputes will be resolved.

AMINZ, which is the largest organisation in New Zealand for dispute resolution, said the new proposals encouraging families to try and settle their own differences with the support of expert assistance, would be hugely beneficial for affected couples and taxpayers alike.

The government has said that mediation, in a new Family Dispute Resolution Service, will now be required in a majority of family disputes before warring parties have access to the Court—a move that will see the emphasis moving to people resolving differences on terms that best suit them, at an early stage, rather than their being compelled into the Court system for resolution of issues.

“We are delighted with the reforms to an area that in one way or another touches most of our lives,” said AMINZ executive director Deborah Hart.

At the same time, however, the success of the new scheme would be dependent on the government “providing funding for those who cannot afford a mediator and insisting on the highest national standards for all mediators working with families,” Ms Hart adds.

Mediation is a consensual process in which a third-party—a mediator—helps parties to reach agreement.

A requirement of high quality mediation provided by qualified, accredited and experienced mediators is therefore crucial in assisting separating families to deal with all their relevant issues.

Among those issues are questions of contact with, and day-to-day care of, children, along with issues to do with property and money.

“And we know that these most sensitive and sometimes contentious disputes are able to be settled using mediation,” says Ms Hart, citing a 2005-06 pilot mediation scheme in the Family Court, which reported that more than 85% of cases settled in part or entirely by way of mediation.

“And what we also know is that this is too important an area to fail.”


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