What is a MIAM?
MIAM is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. It takes place with a specially qualified family mediator and normally takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
What is the purpose of the MIAM?
The purpose of the MIAM is:
- to explain to you the alternatives to the court process available to separating or divorcing couples;
- to give you an opportunity to decide whether going to court would be the best way of resolving the issues surrounding your relationship or marriage breakdown (e.g. children, property and financial issues);
- to explore whether mediation would be a safe and effective alternative to litigation in your particular circumstances.
How does a MIAM link with the court process?
Every client who expresses an interest in mediation begins the process with a MIAM. In addition, since 22 April 2014, almost all divorcing and separating couples in England and Wales who want to use the court process to resolve any disagreements about children or money must prove that they have attended a MIAM first.
You cannot issue an application at court without either (a) a record of a MIAM referral having been made or (b) claiming one of the specific exemptions listed on the application form. If there has been a referral for a MIAM, the mediator has to sign the court application form. The court will check whether any other exemption is validly claimed and will usually require that you attend a MIAM if no exemption in fact applies. A judge may also choose not to hear a case until both people have shown that they have considered mediation. This means that, even if you are quite sure that mediation or one of the other alternatives to court is not for you, attending a MIAM will help you avoid unnecessary delays whether you are the person who is applying to the court, or the other person.
On a more positive note, the meeting gives you a chance to decide, with professional assistance, how best to conduct your separation or divorce in the interests of yourself and your family.
What happens at the MIAM?
Your meeting will be conducted by a mediator accredited by the Family Mediation Council to conduct MIAMs and to sign the relevant court application form confirming that a MIAM has taken place.
The mediator will normally require you to complete a form with your personal details, some details about the background to your case and your aims in mediation, prior to the meeting.
The MIAM will involve you and the mediator discussing your personal situation on a confidential basis without your former partner being present.
During the meeting, the mediator will provide information about the options available to you to resolve the issues around your separation and will discuss with you the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The mediator will also ask you questions and make an assessment as to whether mediation might be a suitable way forward for your family.
The mediator will also discuss with you the practical arrangements for mediation such as when it is convenient for meetings to take place; whether the meetings will be in person or online and how the fees will be paid.
The mediator may decide that mediation is not a safe and/or effective option in your particular situation. If this happens, the mediator will sign the form to confirm that you have attended a MIAM but that mediation is not going ahead.