When you are going through a divorce, you will be invited to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Its purpose is to provide you and your partner with information about alternative forms of dispute resolution, namely mediation, and ultimately aims to give divorcing families more options aside from having to go through the courts.
For this reason, the coalition Government made attending a MIAM a mandatory part of the divorce process in 2014 – but recent research suggests that 60% of couples skip it altogether. However, the research also found that 25% of those who do attend choose mediation and are subsequently able to avoid going to Court.
What is it?
The MIAM is the first meeting you’ll have with a mediator. During this meeting, the advisor will explain what mediation is and set out the options available for your divorce. They’ll help you to determine the best course of action for your family’s individual situation and come to a decision on whether or not mediation is right for you.
During your MIAM, the mediator will give you an idea of how many sessions you can expect to have, and what costs are involved. They will also be able to help you find out if you are eligible for legal aid.
Who has to attend?
If you want to take your case to Court, it is now usually compulsory to attend a MIAM in order to rule out the option of mediation. Both you and your partner are expected to attend a MIAM, but you don’t necessarily have to go together – if you would rather, you and your partner can attend separate meetings.
Some people will be exempt from the requirement to attend a MIAM. There are a range of circumstances under which this exemption applies, but the main reasons include:
- There is evidence of domestic violence or abuse
- There are concerns about child protection
- If you have already attended a MIAM or you have tried mediation and it has not been successful
- You and your partner are already in agreement and there is no dispute to be had
- One of the parties cannot be located, is in prison, or subject to conditions that prevent contact with the other person
- There are no mediators within a 15 mile radius who are able to conduct a MIAM within 15 working days
Should I attend? What are the benefits?
The potential benefits of mediation are myriad. Rather than have a Court decide the outcome of your divorce, working alongside the mediator and your partner to come to a resolution means you have more control over the outcome. It is also significantly cheaper than Court proceedings and is likely to take less time. It can help to prevent further acrimony between you and your partner, and protect your children (if you have them) from conflict over custody.
We understand that when a relationship has broken down, sometimes it is not possible to communicate with your partner. But if you are in a position where you are able to calmly communicate with your partner, it’s a good idea to explore other forms of family dispute resolution before commencing divorce proceedings through the courts. Settling a divorce in Court can be more prolonged, more costly, and can drive an already strained relationship into acrimony.
What happens next?
If you and your partner both agree to try mediation, you will then be able to arrange the date for your first mediation appointment.
Of course, it is possible that during the course of a MIAM you will decide that going down the path of mediation is simply not right for you and your family. If this is what you decide, it will then be possible to make an application to Court accompanied by a letter from your mediator confirming that you have attended the meeting (or that one of the exemptions applies).
At Crisp & Co, our specialist divorce solicitors and qualified mediators have many years’ experience helping separating families to come to the best solution. If you are thinking of going through a divorce, you are considering mediation or you simply have questions about the process, get in touch with one of our friendly experts today – you can call us on 020 3773 2961 or send us an enquiry via our site.