In this resource, we look at the first stage of mediation after you have enquired with a mediation provider. This first stage is known as a MIAM, which stands for Mediation Information Assessment Meeting.

So, first of all, what is Family mediation?

Family Mediation is where a mediator, who is an independent third party, facilitates a discussion between you and an ex-partner, grandparents, legal guardian or someone else with parental responsibility. Usually, the discussion is around finances and or child arrangements. The aim of mediation is to help parties to reach a mutual agreement.

What happens at a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting)?

Once you have made contact with a mediation provider, who is registered with the Family Mediation Council, your mediator will arrange for you to attend your MIAM. You will attend this meeting with just yourself and the mediator.

The MIAM provides you with an opportunity to discuss your situation with the mediator, enabling them to better understand your concerns and what you would like to achieve from mediation and to help you understand the mediation process and what it involves.
The MIAM can last up to one hour; however, this might not be required. The mediator will talk to you about the situation as it stands between you and the other participant/s and can include information such as what contact they are having with any children (where relevant) or items relating to assets and finances, your concerns about the situation, what you would like to gain from mediation and how you feel about the mediation process. Whilst unable to provide you with legal or any other advice but can provide you with information, some of which is legal information. During this assessment, they can signpost you to other places, be it legal, welfare, benefits or concerns about any children, and discuss alternatives to mediation such as the court system, etc. The mediator will also explain the mediation process, how it is confidential, how it will work after the initial MIAM, joint sessions etc. and how mediation can help you. They are also there to answer any questions you may have.

 

Is Mediation suitable?

One of the aims of the MIAM is for the mediator to assess whether they feel mediation is suitable for your case. In some instances, such as domestic abuse, admissions of criminal activity, certain disabilities or safety issues, for example, it may be felt that mediation is not the right course of action. This is often rare, but the mediator will inform you if they think this is the case. You would then discuss with the mediator your options.

What exemptions are there for non-attendance of a MIAM?

The following exemptions were taken from https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/family/practice_directions/

17. FPR Rule 3.8(1) sets out the circumstances in which the MIAM requirement does not apply. These are called MIAM exemptions.

18. In order to claim that a MIAM exemption applies, an applicant will need to tick the appropriate MIAM exemption boxes on the relevant form.

19. Applicants should note that some of the MIAM exemptions require that certain evidence is available. The next section of the Practice Direction specifies those forms of evidence. This evidence must be provided with the application (but does not need to be served on other parties). The court will inquire into such evidence in order to determine whether the MIAM exemption has been validly claimed or, where it has been validly claimed, whether it remains applicable.

MIAM exemption – Domestic abuse

20. The forms of evidence referred to in Rule 3.8(1)(a) are–

(a) evidence that a prospective party has been arrested for a relevant domestic abuse offence;

(b) evidence of a relevant police caution for a domestic abuse offence;

(c) evidence of relevant criminal proceedings for a domestic abuse offence which have not concluded;

(d) evidence of a relevant conviction for a domestic abuse offence;

(e) a court order binding a prospective party over in connection with a domestic abuse offence;

(f) a domestic abuse protection notice issued under section 24 of the Crime and Security Act 2010 against a prospective party;

(g) a relevant protective injunction;

(h) an undertaking given in England and Wales under section 46 or 63E of the Family Law Act 1996 (or given in Scotland or Northern Ireland in place of a protective injunction) by a prospective party, provided that a cross-undertaking relating to domestic violence or domestic abuse was not given by another prospective party;

(i) a copy of a finding of fact, made in proceedings in the United Kingdom, that there has been domestic abuse by a prospective party;

(j) an expert report produced as evidence in proceedings in the United Kingdom for the benefit of a court or tribunal confirming that a person with whom a prospective party is or personally connected, was assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic abuse by that prospective party;

(k) a letter or report from an appropriate health professional confirming that-

(i) that professional, or another appropriate health professional, has examined a prospective party in person, by telephone or by video conferencing; and

(ii) in the reasonable professional judgment of the author or the examining appropriate health professional, that prospective party has, or has had, injuries or a condition consistent with being a victim of domestic abuse;

(l) a letter or report from-

(i) the appropriate health professional who made the referral described below;

(ii) an appropriate health professional who has access to the medical records of the prospective party referred to below; or

(iii) the person to whom the referral described below was made;
confirming that there was a referral by an appropriate health professional of a prospective party to a person who provides specialist support or assistance for victims of, or those at risk of, domestic abuse;

(m) a letter from any person who is a member of a multi-agency risk assessment conference (or other suitable local safeguarding forum) confirming that a prospective party, or a person with whom that prospective party is personally connected, is or has been at risk of harm from domestic abuse by another prospective party;

(n) a letter from an independent domestic abuse advisor confirming that they are providing, or have provided, support to a prospective party;

(o) a letter from an independent sexual violence advisor confirming that they are providing, or have provided, support to a prospective party relating to sexual violence by another prospective party;

(p) a letter from an officer employed by a local authority or housing association (or their equivalent in Scotland or Northern Ireland) for the purpose of supporting tenants containing-

(i) a statement to the effect that, in their reasonable professional judgment,  a person with whom a prospective party is or has been personally connected is, or is at risk of being, a victim of domestic abuse by that prospective party;

(ii) a description of the specific matters relied upon to support that judgment; and

(iii) a description of the support they provided to the victim of domestic abuse or the person at risk of domestic abuse by that prospective party;

(q) a letter which-

(i) is from an organisation providing domestic abuse support services, or a registered charity, which letter confirms that it-

(aa) is situated in the United Kingdom,

(bb) has been operating for an uninterrupted period of six months or more; and

(cc) provided a prospective party with support in relation to that person’s needs as a victim, or a person at risk, of domestic abuse; and

(ii) contains-

(aa) a statement to the effect that, in the reasonable professional judgment of the author of the letter, the prospective party is, or is at risk of being, a victim of domestic abuse;

(bb) a description of the specific matters relied upon to support that judgment;

(cc) a description of the support provided to the prospective party; and

(dd) a statement of the reasons why the prospective party needed that support;

(r) a letter or report from an organisation providing domestic abuse support services in the United Kingdom confirming-

(i) that a person with whom a prospective party is or was personally connected was refused admission to a refuge;

(ii) the date on which they were refused admission to the refuge; and

(iii) they sought admission to the refuge because of allegations of domestic abuse by the prospective party referred to in paragraph (i);

(s) a letter from a public authority confirming that a person with whom a prospective party is or was personally connected, was assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic abuse by that prospective party (or a copy of that assessment);

(t) a letter from the Secretary of State for the Home Department confirming that a prospective party has been granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a victim of domestic abuse under paragraph 289B of the Rules made by the Home Secretary under section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-index;

(u) evidence which demonstrates that a prospective party has been, or is at risk of being, the victim of domestic abuse by another prospective party in the form of abuse which relates to financial matters.

MIAM exemption – previous non-court dispute resolution attendance

21A If within the four months before the date of the court application the prospective applicant has attended a non-court dispute resolution process in relation to the same, or substantially the same, dispute to which the proposed court proceedings relate, then a MIAM exemption applies (Rule 3.8(1)(d)). The prospective applicant must provide evidence of that attendance at a non-court dispute resolution process. The required form of evidence is: written confirmation from the non-court dispute resolution provider that the prospective applicant has attended.”.

MIAM exemption – Bankruptcy

21. The forms of evidence referred to in Rule 3.8(1)(h) are –

(a) application by the prospective applicant for a bankruptcy order;

(b) petition by a creditor of the prospective applicant for a bankruptcy order; or

(c) a bankruptcy order in respect of the prospective applicant.

MIAM Certificate for court?

At the end of the MIAM, the mediator will take the other potential participant’s details unless you are the respondent and explain the next steps regarding contacting them and inviting them to a MIAM as you have and what will happen if they decline to attend. If the other participant declines mediation, or you feel it isn’t the right option for you the mediator will then explore your options as to how you may take it forward. One of these options is for the mediator to sign a C100 form (child arrangement issues only) or a Form A (Finance issues only) or, in some cases, both a C100 and Form A, which will allow you to make an application to the court.

Financial matters in Mediation?

Not all mediation cases are just about children. There are divorce and separation cases where people dispute finances or even children and finances. If financial cases (including property, bank accounts, pensions etc.) are the issue topic, the mediator will inform you of the process in your MIAM, as it differs from mediation for child arrangement issues. They will explain disclosure and the documentation that will be required, as you and your ex-partner will need to disclose your financial situation, including your incomings and outgoings, any assets or property you hold and your pensions.

The mediator will also inform you of the importance of obtaining independent legal or financial advice regarding your financial position.

For more information about the next stage of mediation, attending a joint mediation session, please visit What to expect in a joint family mediation session.

To find out more about the family mediation council and the role they play in mediation, please visit https://accessmediationservices.co.uk/resources/mediation/family/about-the-family-mediation-council

We hope you have enjoyed this resource and that it has been beneficial to you. Just a gentle reminder that all of the content on this website including resources, blogs, articles and content on web pages, is prohibited from being used or copied in any public domain unless stated otherwise. Access Mediation Services is also not responsible for the accuracy of these resources nor responsible for how people use the information we provide in this information.

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