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Resolving Family Law Issues with less Acrimony.

Separation and divorce with respect, understanding and without heightened conflict is possible!

Separating without conflict

If you’ve sought us out, you may be feeling confused and uncertain about the road that lies ahead for you and your family as you work through your separation or family law issue. You may also be feeling distressed about what is happening for you. We get that. We aim to give you greater clarity and certainty so you can move forward and make the decisions you need to.

We understand that most people do not want to go to Court about their family. We specialise in keeping you out of Court as much as possible. We offer a range of options for resolving family law issues and we know there will be one that is just right for you and your loved ones.

​You may have heard horror stories from friends who have undergone a separation, divorce or another family law issue. Rest assured, at Lighthouse Legal, we guide you in a different way –

  • a way that doesn’t involve Court and out of control legal costs.

  • a way that is responsive to your needs and ensures you understand what is going on.

  • a way that reduces the risk of emotional harm to your children and supports you to maintain respectful future family relations!

  • a way that is respectful and dignified.


It is our mission to change the way New Zealanders experience family law and separation. Our lawyers have helped thousands of people dial down the uncertainty and acrimony and find a clearer, more positive way forward in their family lives.

Our Family in Two Homes

At Lighthouse Legal, we are proud to have been instrumental in the creation of the New Zealand version of the Our Family in Two Homes workbook to offer our clients.

Find out how working with us, using “Our Family in Two Homes”, can benefit you. 

How we can help

At Lighthouse Legal we can help you resolve the following issues without going to Court:

FAQs about Family Law

  • We make meeting with us easy from wherever you are.
    We hate parking hassles and getting stuck in traffic as much as you do! We also get asked to work with clients who live far from us. Therefore, as much as possible, we give you choices for meeting with us online or by phone.
  • We strive to contain conflict & its harmful effects.
    Conflict can quickly become inflamed. We have all undertaken specialist training to acquire the skills and experience to help contain conflict so it does not steer you off course.
  • We work with you at a pace that makes sense in your circumstances.
    The pace at which you want to reach a resolution will be individual to you. We assist you to move at the speed that is right for you.
  • We offer you a bigger range of resolution options.
    We know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sorting your legal issues so we offer multiple options for how to work through your issue and we help you to find the one that best suits you.
  • We’re good eggs who won’t blow up your situation!
    We get that coming to see a lawyer can feel daunting and that legal issues can be one of life’s most stressful and emotionally charged “big moments”. Honestly, we are not the least bit scary! We are not at all stuffy. We love a joke and good conversation. You’ll often find we’re in jeans and sneakers, rather than a suit, with some home baking and a cuppa on offer.
  • We help you find the approach that is right for you.
    We work as a team, both within Lighthouse and with our trusted outside partners. This ensures the best people with the right skills are helping you at the right times.
  • We help you THRIVE
    We understand most people want to work through challenges in a positive, evolved and forward focused way to come out stronger. We help you to move through your legal issue respectfully, in ways that reduce conflict, and with confidence and certainty so that you can go on to thrive.
  • We focus on helping you RESOLVE matters without Court
    We understand that the only people who enjoy going to Court are lawyers. We also believe the best people to decide an issue are those whose lives are intimately affected by it. Therefore, we specialise in helping you reach solutions outside of Court.
  • We focus on UNDERSTANDING what’s important to you
    We appreciate that the law is only one factor in your decision making. Often the solutions prescribed by the law do not reflect what is truly important to you and your family moving forward. That is why we focus on understanding the “human” factors that are important to you. This isn’t a one-off discussion for us. We keep checking in on this throughout our time working alongside you.
  • We make the law easy to understand.
    The law and legal processes can seem overly complicated. Sometimes, it is very complex! We take the time to make it as straight forward as possible and ensure you are all over any legal information you need to understand.
  • Non-judgemental partnership
    You work with an unbiased advocate and experienced coach who is your voice of reason and fosters resilience through self-discovery. A coach assists you in managing the divorce process and supporting you through the challenges. You gain a sounding board and thinking partner and have someone on your side to brainstorm ideas with. A coach assists in educating you about the process of divorce and how to create a strong team of professionals and expert advisors who work for you.
  • Enhanced organisational skills
    There is a lot to work through and organise with a divorce. A coach helps you deal with the overwhelm by breaking the process down into small manageable steps. We work through a forward-thinking, goal-orientated and step by step process for you. A coach guides you to organise both your thoughts and the paperwork (parenting plans, budgeting plans, property settlement negotiations, preparation for mediation or court). A coach helps you to clarify what is important in your divorce and assists you to understand and avoid the common pitfalls. A coach encourages you to define your personal goals and to devise strategies and a plan to empower and fulfil those goals.
  • Less cost
    A coach assists in lowering legal and other professional fees as you have moved beyond your emotional story and are fully prepared for the business of divorce.
  • Improves communication skills
    You learn to make more informed and less emotional decisions. You will become a credible and effective communicator so you are heard and can navigate and effectively participate in your divorce and as a co-parent.
  • Provides emotional support
    A coach prepares you mentally for the rollercoaster of emotions that might be experienced and helps you develop a sense of control during a challenging time. A coach assists you to focus on thinking about how to solve the challenge, not the challenge itself, and builds your strength so you can move forward and take effective action.
  • My friend has a trust and said I should get one. Does everyone need a trust?
    No. Trusts were very popular in New Zealand in the past and there was a time when it felt like everyone had one! Trusts serve an important purpose in helping you manage your property during your lifetime and after your death, particularly if you have a blended family or assets that you want to ensure are preserved for future generations. However, in many situations a will and Enduring power of attorney will be all that you need. We can assess your circumstances and advise you as to whether a trust is necessary for you or not.
  • Can’t I just do an enduring Power of Attorney if I need one in the future?
    No. Powers of Attorney are designed to look after your interests if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. You need to be of sound mind and legally able to make decisions to go through the process of appointing a Power of Attorney. Therefore, waiting for that day you need a Power of Attorney will be too late.
  • Can I just write my own will or buy an online will?
    Yes, you can. However, it is important to receive sound advice and guidance when drafting your will. This helps prevent the costly implications of having mistakes in your will or you not having met any obligations you have. Your legal advisor will factor in the legal structure of how your assets are owned and the implications of this for your will. The cost of getting the advice of experienced lawyers when drafting your will is far less than the expense your estate and family will incur in Court and legal costs if mistakes are made in your will or a claim is made against your estate.
  • I want to leave someone out of my will. Can I?
    It depends on who it is! Leaving certain family members, such as partners, spouses and children, out of your will or providing unequally for them can create a recipe for costly future legal disputes and challenges to your will which can be devastating to the relationships between your surviving loved ones. Talk with us about your situation and the reasons behind your wishes. We can talk through with you the legal repercussions and offer solutions that can reduce the risk of costly conflict after your death.
  • Do I really need an enduring Power of Attorney – won’t my spouse or kids just be able to manage things for me if I can’t?
    No. Many people think that if they are unable to manage their affairs that their spouse or children will be able to make decisions for them. That isn’t the case unless you have given them the power to do so through having an enduring Power of Attorney.
  • I’m young. Do I really need to do an enduring Power of Attorney now?
    While it is important the elderly have an enduring Power of Attorney, the reality is that everyone should have one! We often think of people becoming unable to manage their financial and personal affairs in older age. However, these situations can arise at any age as the result of an accident or medical event. If such a situation happens and you don’t have a Power of Attorney, your family will be unable to make decisions for you about your care and won’t be able to manage your finances.
  • I’ve got a Will so do I need an Enduring power of attorney?
    You should have both as they both do different things at different times. Your power of attorney takes effect during your lifetime if you become unable to make decisions or manage your affairs. Your will takes effect on your dying at which point your power of attorney will automatically end. On your death, the executor of your will takes over managing your estate and the person who had power of attorney ceases to act on your behalf (unless they are also your executor).
  • Even if we have reached agreement about our property and finances, do we still need to provide financial disclosure?
    Absolutely! Financial disclosure ensures that you each can make fully informed decisions about a property or financial settlement. When we provide advice about relationship property agreements, we have an obligation to obtain disclosure so that our advice to you is appropriate. We understand that not everyone loves paperwork the way we do! That is why we have streamlined processes to help you with this.
  • I have Court proceedings happening about my parenting and property issues. Can you still help?
    Absolutely! Even if Court proceedings are happening, it is not too late to avoid a Court hearing. Using our skills in dispute resolution, we are able to review your matter and advise you on a negotiation strategy or explore mediating your dispute.
  • Can you provide advice about a relationship property agreement to both of us?
    No. You each need to have independent advice about a relationship property agreement which means Family Law Results can only advise one of you about the agreement. Sometimes a couple who are separating will see us together and use our mediation or guided resolution service to reach agreement together. However, when it comes to completing the written property agreement, you will be referred to other lawyers for independent advice. We only refer to other experienced family lawyers who are trained in Collaborative practice because they have training to assist them to help keep you both on the same page and to complete the agreement as amicably as possibly.
  • Do we each need to get legal advice if we have reached a relationship property agreement?
    Yes. The law in New Zealand is that a relationship property agreement isn't valid and enforceable unless you have each received independent legal advice about the agreement. To confirm that independent legal advice has been received, a certificate on the agreement is signed by each of your lawyers.
  • If I complete a parenting plan or agreement about my children, can I have this made into Court orders?
    We can advise you on whether a Court order is needed. If everyone is in agreement, we can assist you to obtain a “consent parenting order” from the Court fairly easily.
  • How does a divorce coach differ from a therapist?
    A therapist will delve into underlying emotional issues, perhaps issues that arose from trauma or early family experiences, that are keeping you from experiencing optimal mental health functioning. A divorce coach is focused on helping you manage the broad range of emotions and experiences that surface during a divorce, will provide resources, and guide you through important decisions you will need to make for yourself and your children. A divorce coach is not a therapist.
  • If I already have a lawyer, why do I need a divorce coach?
    A divorce coach cannot provide legal advice. While a good lawyer will be empathetic and supportive, their specialised training and skills mean they focus on advising you about your legal questions, help you decide on the best legal strategy and guide you through that process, draft and review agreements, and advocate for you ​ Most lawyers may not have the available time, training, skill or demeanour to help you manage your emotions and to help you sort other issues like budgeting, conflict style, settlement and life goals. That’s where a divorce coach comes in.
  • How much does it cost?
    You should ask your coach about their fees before you engage them and contact other coaches to get an assessment of what the costs usually are. Investing in support from a divorce coach can help you be more prepared for meetings with your lawyer which can mean you need less time with your lawyer, reducing your legal fees. Legal fees will be higher for customers whose situation means they struggle with their feelings, emotions, communicating with the other party and setting goals. Engaging meaningfully with both a divorce coach and your lawyer means you will usually have a smoother and faster divorce process and you’ll spend less overall.
  • But I don’t have time for coaching sessions!
    Do you have time not to engage with a coach? We often find that coaching helps our clients resolve their legal issues more efficiently. Coaching is a flexible process that fits easily into your schedule. Sessions can be in-person, over the phone or on Zoom. Your coach can be available to support you at short notice. Sessions are one-on-one and always confidential.
  • What is mediation?
    Mediation is a process for resolving disputes where an independent and unbiased mediator assists the parties to negotiate and reach a mutually satisfactory settlement. Mediation is a faster, cheaper and less stressful way to resolve a dispute than through a Court, Tribunal or another forum.
  • What happens during the mediation?
    ● The mediator begins by explaining the mediation process The Mediator explains the mediation process and establishes the ground rules, including that only one person speaks at a time. If you have agreed on support people being present, we will agree on what their role is. ● Each party tells the Mediator how he or she sees the dispute, without interruption The Mediator’s role is to allow you and the other party to speak without interruption, and then summarise what each of you has said. ● The Mediator helps the parties to identify the issues in dispute From what you and the other party say, the Mediator will identify the issues that are underlying your conflict. ● The Mediator helps the parties to discuss each issue ThemMediator helps you to talk to each other about each issue in turn. Often this is the first time that you will both have been in a safe place where you can really listen to each other and gain an understanding of how the other person feels about the issues. This is the first step to resolving your dispute. ● The Mediator will have a confidential private session with each party The mediator will check how the mediation is going for you and answer any questions. This is a chance for you to discuss anything you might not want to raise in front of the other person. ● The Mediator helps the parties to work out options that meet their needs and to agree on the option that best meets both their needs We 'brainstorm' ideas that might meet both of your needs. We then start to work more on the options that seem like they might work. Once we have all the options identified, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one and which one(s) best meets your needs. Often the final agreement will be a combination of the options. (Statistics tell us that at least 80% of mediations result in agreements). ● The Mediator may prepare an agreement for the parties to sign If you want to have a written agreement, the mediator can prepare an agreement in your words that all sign at the end of the mediation. Sometimes that agreement is all you need. However, you may wish to take the agreement to your lawyer before you sign it. When it comes to a relationship property agreement each party must have an independent lawyer to provide legal advice before they sign their respective divorce settlement agreement. We advise that a lawyer drafts the settlement agreement.
  • What happens before the mediation?
    Before the mediation, the mediator will contact you (either face-to-face, online or by phone) to prepare you for the mediation and to answer any questions you have. The discussion will include who will attend the mediation, whether you want to bring a support person, whether the mediation will take place face-to-face or online, and whether there are any documents you wish the mediator to look at before the mediation. The mediator will email you an Agreement to Mediate, setting out the guidelines for the mediation, which will be signed before or at the beginning of the mediation.
  • What does the Mediator not do?
    The Mediator does not: ● Take sides The Mediator’s role is to be impartial and provide a safe environment for you and the other party to listen to each other. ● Give legal advice You are welcome to bring your lawyer to the mediation or to seek legal advice before, during or after the mediation. You may wish to have your lawyer look over any agreement you make before you sign it. ● Provide counselling The Mediator is very experienced in helping you deal with emotions that arise during mediation. You will be able to more easily make decisions about the outcome you need. ● Decide the outcome for you Mediation allows you to be in control of the outcome and reach an agreement that meets your and the other party's needs. If you take legal action, a Judge, Arbitrator or Adjudicator will decide the outcome according to the law, which usually doesn’t satisfy either party’s full needs.
  • What are the benefits of mediation?
    Mediation is fast, cost-effective, informal and flexible, less stressful than legal action, confidential, voluntary and more effective communication. ● Fast Most resolutions result from one mediation (occasionally more), whereas using the legal process can often take years. ● Cost-effective Most mediations cost very little when compared to taking legal action. ● Informal and flexible In mediation, we do not need to follow the rules of evidence and other legal requirements. As long as you both agree and the law allows, we make the process work for you. ● Less stressful than legal action The Mediator will guide you through the process of identifying the issues, exploring the issues, helping you to understand each other's perspectives and solving the problem together. Legal action is usually adversarial and often reinforces conflict. ● Confidential Anything discussed in the mediation is confidential to the parties and the mediator, except in rare situations where the law requires a mediator to disclose information. ● Voluntary All parties will need to agree to attend a mediation and can leave at any time. ● More effective communication If your relationship with the other person will continue in the future, the mediation process can help you repair your relationship and give you tools to communicate with each other more effectively in the future.
  • What if I don't want to see or hear the other person?
    If you don’t want to see or hear the other person during mediation, the mediator will use ‘shuttle mediation’. The mediator moves between the two rooms and carries your messages to each other. This type of mediation has similar results to face-to-face mediation. Shuttle mediation can also be done online.
  • Do you accept Legal Aid cases?
    At this time, we are not able to provide Legal Aid services for new clients due to the amount of voluntary work we do.
  • May I bring someone with me to meet with you?
    When you meet with us, you’re absolutely welcome to bring a friend, family member or coach for support and to be your second set of ears. We aim to ensure that meeting with us is as comfortable as possible for you.
  • Do you appear in Court?
    Sometimes. For adoption and surrogacy matters, appearing in Court is inevitable to get an adoption order made. Likewise, for paternity cases, the Court's assistance is often needed. Even in matters where agreements are reached, there may be times where Court orders must be obtained to give effect to those agreements. If your matter cannot be resolved by agreement and where required, we can work with you to ensure you are well represented in Court.
  • If I come to see you for a consultation, am I obliged to use your services?
    Absolutely not. A first consultation with us is an ideal opportunity to test the waters and assess whether you think we will be the right team for you. While most people who come to see us choose to engage us either as their lawyer, mediator or coach, we understand that choosing professionals to work with is a vitally important decision. Therefore, you are not obliged to engage us after our initial meeting.
  • I don’t live where you have an office, can you still help me?
    Absolutely! We have worked with clients throughout NZ and around the world. We have meeting rooms in Auckland, Christchurch and Central Otago but, with technology, we can meet you anywhere.
  • When is the best time to come and see you about my problem?
    We find that clients who receive our assistance as early on as possible usually end up avoiding a lot of wasted time and money. For clients who are considering a separation, working with one of our recommended divorce coaches early on can help you get clarity in your next steps. By seeking assistance early on, our clients manage to avoid potential pitfalls in their legal matter that can come with leaving things for long. Having said that, it is never too late to see us! We have helped clients who have been separated for 20+ years finally tidy up their property issues. We also have helped clients reach agreements when they were almost at the courtroom doors with a hearing date coming up.
  • I don’t want things to get out of hand and blow up by seeing a lawyer. Is there a way to avoid that?
    Absolutely there is! Every lawyer at Lighthouse Legal has undertaken specialised training in skills that mean, as much as possible, we can help keep the temperature down in any conflict or legal issue that our clients are facing. We strive to guide you towards a more respectful and amicable resolution than you may have seen played out with others (or on TV or films!). We don’t take any steps without your approval. We guide you through the different options you have, bearing in mind the reaction they may cause.
  • Do you offer fixed fees?
    We realise clients want certainty about what steps possibly lie ahead of them in their case and how much each step will cost. Therefore, where possible, we offer fixed fees for steps in your matter. When you first see us for your initial consultation, we can scope out what your legal issue requires and what the likely cost of this will be. In cases where a fixed fee cannot be offered, we endeavour to give you estimates along the way of the cost of your next steps.
"Thank you for your assistance, advise and guidance up until now. I appreciate your effective, direct, down-to-earth style… I feel well supported and better prepared for the future by having gone through this with you”

- Anonymous

Spotlight on Family Law in the Lighthouse Blog

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