From 22 April the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) will become a required step for anyone going through the end of a marriage or having a dispute with an ex regarding children. But what exactly is a MIAM and why are they now a compulsory part of the process?
Essentially, a MIAM is a method of encouraging people to consider whether their dispute could be resolved through cost-effective mediation before it reaches the courts.
The government hopes that compulsory MIAMs will prove to be an effective cost cutting measure for the court system. But what does that mean for those going through the process?
Attending a MIAM
It is important to understand, while in most cases attending MIAM is compulsory, the mediation itself is not. The MIAM is in order to determine if mediation is the most appropriate option.
If the dispute does end up in court, proof that mediation has been considered is required before the case can proceed.
During the MIAM you will be presented with a range of information regarding your options.
A MIAM is led by an accredited mediator and can be attended alone or with your ex-partner present.
Not attending a MIAM
Although attending will be compulsory for most people, there are exceptions. These include:
*If there has been, or is a risk of, domestic violence.
*One of the parties is bankrupt
*The parties agree there is no dispute to mediate.
*The whereabouts of one party is unknown.
*The application is made without notice to the other party.
*There is a significant risk to the life, liberty or physical safety of one party.
*Having spoken to three mediators in a 15 mile radius, none is able to provide a MIAM within 15 days
After a MIAM
Should none of the exemptions apply, the MIAM will go ahead. At the MIAM, the mediator will determine whether mediation is the appropriate avenue to resolve your particular dispute.
If it is determined mediation is appropriate, the mediator will talk you through the next steps in the process.
If not, a form must be completed, supplied by the mediator, which will confirm you have attended a MIAM. This will allow your case to proceed to a court.
How long is a MIAM?
National Family Mediation reckons a MIAM will take about 45 minutes.
Where do I go?
Currently, only a small number of law firms are able to provide mediators to hold a MIAM, although the number is likely to rise given the change in the law. This is because mediators must meet very specific criteria set by the government. These include:
*Holding specific qualifications and accreditation.
*Being a member of the Family Mediation Council.
*Holding professional indemnity insurance.
*Meeting certain criteria for continuing professional development.
*Being in active practice as a mediator.
*Completing a rigorous Family Mediation Council course.
Luckily, the good people at Stowe Family Law have such mediators at all our offices in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and London. Contact us for more information.