Family Works Northern has saved more than 5,000 children, and more than 5,000 parents and caregivers, from the trauma of going through the family court system with its Family Dispute Resolution Programme in the last two-and-a-half years. Timothy McMichael, who is the Family Works Resolution Service Manager, says: “Children come first in our mediation process. When the Family Mediation Service gets involved, outcomes can be very positive for children of marital or relationship breakdown. It is a huge plus for these children to not have to go through the family court system, which can be very traumatic.”
A new book on the effects on children of marital breakdown called Splitting Up – A Child’s Guide To A Grown Up Problem, published by a UK law firm, highlights the negative effects on children there as a result of marital or relationship breakdown, which are remarkably similar to the effects on New Zealand children.
Family Dispute Resolution is an alternative to having Family Courts rule on child care and access arrangements. The process spares families the stress of the court process, can save them thousands of dollars in legal fees, and reduces strain on the court system.
After families utilise the Family Works’ mediation service, children often feel more secure knowing that their Mum and Dad are working together with less conflict to make decisions about their future and their wellbeing, said Mr McMichael. “Children often have more consistent attendance at school, and have improved or resumed engagement at school and with after school activities.”
The needs of the child are firmly placed at the centre of each and every Family Mediation meeting. Family Works family mediators bring the combined experience of a national organisation which has supported families and children for more than 130 years.