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.