Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
The initial meeting or Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is the first step is to attend a meeting with the mediator, so you can find out more about mediation and if it’s right for you.
At the initial meeting the mediator will see you separately in a meeting that is private and confidential. The mediator will also see your ex-partner separately.
The separate meetings will allow you and your ex-partner to explain your concerns, as well as allowing the mediator to provide you with information and make an assessment whether your case is suitable for mediation.
When should I go to a MIAM?
Mediation is often most effective when it takes place at an early stage, before the issues become big problems. It’s best to contact a mediator as soon as you and your ex-partner have come to terms with the separation and need help sorting out arrangements.
You don’t need to see a solicitor first but if you do they should tell you about mediation. Even if you’ve been separated for a while or if your case has already gone to court, mediation can help to resolve any dispute you may still have.
The law says that you must consider whether mediation can help you before you can take a case to court. This means you need to go to a MIAM unless special circumstances apply, for instance, if your situation involves domestic violence or abuse.
What happens at a family mediation meeting?
After the MIAM, if you all agree to try mediation, you will need to attend mediation sessions (usually 1-2 hours each). The length and number of sessions will depend on your situation. The mediator will take notes about your case and your proposals in order to draft a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, so that everyone is clear about what has been decided. Agreements made in mediation can be made legally binding by a court if both you and your ex-partner agree. This is sometimes useful if arrangements are meant to run over a period of time, such as child maintenance payments, or if you want something a little more formal to help you both stick to your agreement. Some people going through mediation find it helpful to have legal support to advise them.
What if I want to go to court?
The law says that you must consider whether mediation can help you before you can take a case to court. A judge can halt your case until this has happened. You will need to show the court that a) you have been to a MIAM to find out about mediation, or b) you don’t need to do this because of special circumstances which make you exempt.
Special circumstances include cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, which may not be right for mediation – the mediator can advise you on this at the Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting.