What is a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM)? And why is it important?
If you have a client who you think would benefit from attending mediation you may refer them to a mediator, and the mediator will invite them to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
Those wanting to attend mediation have been required to attend a MIAM since 1997, and 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 have attended a MIAM first (unless exemptions apply).
Joanna Toloczko and Jayne Martins from our Family team are joined by Claire Black, a specialist Divorce & Break up Coach, Master NLP Practitioner, and author of 'Break-up: from Crisis to Confidence', to explain why mediation is important for families going through separation or divorce.
Is my case suitable for mediation?
An important part of the MIAM is for the mediator to assess whether the case is suitable for mediation. Therefore the mediator will discuss with the client if there might be any relevant issues such as; domestic abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, child abuse, or any mental health issues that may impact on the ability of the clients to engage in the mediation process. A mediator will only proceed with mediation if it is safe for all parties to do so and the MIAM provides an important safeguarding check.
The mediator in a MIAM must also provide information to the client of other out of Court ways of resolving issues, so they are able to make an informed decision as to whether mediation might be the right process for them, and allow them to fully consider their options.
Do both parties attend a MIAM?
A mediator should conduct all MIAMs individually so that the client does not attend a MIAM with the other party as this would impact the mediator’s ability to assess the safeguarding. It is also likely that MIAMs will take place on a different day to when a joint mediation session might take place. This ensures that all parties have time to reflect on the information provided in the MIAM, and are able to decide on whether they wish to proceed with mediation or not.
The mediator will discuss with the client during the MIAM the practical arrangements for mediation such as; when it might be convenient for meetings to take place; where the meetings will take place; and whether they will be in person, in offices, or online.
A mediator conducting a MIAM for one party must also invite the other party to attend a separate MIAM even if it is clear that the mediation is not going to proceed. Both parties must have had the opportunity to have attended a separate MIAM.
What are the benefits of attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting?
Overall, the MIAM is a very effective way of providing clients with detailed information about mediation and how the mediation process works, costings, and timescales. It also provides clients with wider information about other processes that may be available to them, and highlights the importance of legal advice.
Mediation is not suitable in all cases and therefore the MIAM is an invaluable way for all parties to ascertain whether mediation might be an appropriate process for a particular client. If mediation is not proceeding, or is not considered to be safe or an effective option in a particular situation, the mediator is able to sign a form confirming that the client has attended a MIAM but that the mediation is not going ahead.
We believe it is almost always best to keep family disputes out of the courts, and avoid the expense, delay, and stress, of contested court proceedings wherever possible.
For more information on mediation services contact our specialist family mediators today on 0800 923 2074 or fill in our contact form here.