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Divorce: 60% of couples ignore MIAMs

As many as 60 per cent of couples seeking a divorce do not attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before taking their case to court.

In April 2014, the then-coalition government made the attendance of such meetings compulsory for anyone who wanted to bring their marriage to an end. However, a new report from National Family Mediation (NFM) has revealed that out of around 90,000 divorce applications last year, only 35,627 couples took part in a MIAM.

The number of people who attend a MIAM has always been low and making them a mandatory part of the divorce process has not helped. The coalition wanted to “help tens of thousands of couples who separate each year save money, time and stress in making post-divorce arrangements”  NFM Chief Executive Jane Robey explained.

The current government needs to “get to grips with what’s going on and explain these figures” because if they don’t the law “though well-intentioned, will be seen as a failure” she said, adding:

“At the very least Ministers need to provide more support to inform, educate and publicise the fact that MIAMs are compulsory so they ensure that the law is properly enforced and that much more mediation is delivered.”

Even if the number of MIAMs increases, there is no guarantee that it will lead to significantly higher numbers of people using mediation rather than the courts. In 2015, family law organisation Resolution published a survey of legal professionals suggesting that only 25 per cent of MIAMs actually resulted in the couple who attended choosing mediation.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andy says:

    Having been through this one and only once..the trouble is the idiot ex just kept sending letters so never turned up as a stalling issue..No cost to her but £100 for me…
    When in court things like this were not even considered…So in effect it is a waste of time and costs spiral…It would only give you a certificate to say you attended…

  2. Mrs C says:

    Having attempted mediation, it really does only work if the separation is reasonably amicable. My now ex-husband was irretractably hostile towards me, despite the fact it was he who had committed adultery and he who left the family home. He refused to cooperate meaninfully, refused to disclose fully in terms of his finances and after two sessions it was called to a halt after he threw a cheque in the mediators face and stormed out. Furthermore, mediation is expensive and often unaffordable. It is also absolutely the wrong path if there has been any sort of domestic violence, despite the availability of shuttle mediation. I know of only two couples who have had any success at all and most view it as a complete waste of time unfortunately. I had no choice but to use the court and self-represent, successfully fortunately. However, not everybody would be able to do this. I am really not sure what the answer is. Mediation *should* be an excellent resource for separating couples but in my own experience, it actually made the situation far worse.

    • Stitchedup says:

      “It is also absolutely the wrong path if there has been any sort of domestic violence, despite the availability of shuttle mediation” I have to disagree. The definition of domestic violence is now absurdly broad and can include benign breaches of dodgy ex-parte non mols secured without any evidence of domestic violence. I see absolutely no reason why a man convicted of domestic violence for being in breach of a dodgy ex-parte non mol because he has voiced an opinion about the selling price of the family home or sent a text saying he’s going to be late picking up the children for a contact handover, should be excluded from mediation. DV allegations are often used by women to avoid mediation because they know they have the upper hand in court as they work on the basis that a,woman should be wrapped in cotton wool and the man should be put in the gutter.

      • Mrs C says:

        I don’t necessarily disagree with you. When my ex-husband carried out an unprovoked assault on me in front of my 2 year old autistic child in the street, prompting my neighbours to call the police, I STILL attempted mediation with him despite everything and believe me, that is a very small part of my “story”. I did EVERYTHING in my power to try and find a solution before turning to the courts. My ex-husband is wholly unable to mediate or follow due process. Unfortunately, I have come across many people under DV situations for whom mediation is simply not appropriate and indeed it is not advised under certain circumstances and I am certainly not referring to the scenarios you mention in your post. I didn’t say that anybody should be excluded from that proces simply that in some situations it is simply not a solution.

  3. Paul says:

    Mediation. Just like in family law. Drawing out the proccess. Generating more cash for legal professionals. People who get to the point of filing for devorce are usually way passed the point where mediation would be useful. Doubt their are many who would say mediation has been useful.

  4. Ian bates says:

    Hardly surprising seeing as cases of allegations, made by women, alledging victims of domestic abuse have increased by a third , which in turn are made to avoid mediation, and to gain legal aid or loans that would otherwise not be there .

  5. JamesB says:

    I find it strange that the biggest issue with litigation is not addressed. With limited asset cases, a solicitor will get the full and frank disclosure and calculate what solution a court would make, then put an offer together to the other side which differs to that ‘in the hope of getting their client a good deal’.

    The solicitor knows that all they are doing is ramping up costs and acrimony and making future relationship unnecessarily hard especially for the children, yet they do it anyway to boost their bank balance. Then they blame the client for being unreasonable when it was them who drafted the offer letters.

    All the stuff about mediation and feckless deadbeat dads etc is a smokescreen. The real issue is lawyers giving divorce a bad name by milking them for the fees. The establishment wont address as they are lawyers. Thus number of marriages go down and the establishment go down. Time the establishment changed their tune and implement divorce reform as per the law commission report and implement affordable pre and post nups (its been over two years since they said they would implement the recommendation, they have not done anything towards it) and taking fault out of it and making it essentially like the Scottish system which is a lot better than the E and W system. It is a shame they have a better system then we do. Mediation is besides the point and a straw man and a fake argument from the real issues.

  6. Roberta says:

    I have talked to an attorney about my case. I can not afford the legal fees. I was trying to find away to ask the courts for my grandparent rights. I haven’t seen my granddaughter for 5 years. I tried to call send letters and nothing. My daughter passed away in 2018 and her ex family has kept her away from me. Is there anything I can do?

    • Sally Shakespeare says:

      Hi Roberta. Thank you for your enquiry. I will pass your details to our Client Care Team who will be in touch. Best wishes

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