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 without your ex-partner.
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, it is during this assessment that 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.
MIAM Certificate for court?
At the end of the MIAM, the mediator will take your ex-partner’s details and explain the next steps regarding contacting your ex-partner and inviting them to a MIAM as you have and what will happen if they decline to attend. If your ex-partner declines mediation, the mediator will 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 gaining independent legal advice or financial advice in regard to 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