Since 2014, all applications to court for family proceedings relating to children or finances, are to be preceded by an information meeting about family mediation and other forms on alternative dispute resolution. This meeting is known as a mediation information and assessment meeting, or more informally as a MIAM. The Family Procedure Rules do not require an individual to undertake mediation, but simply to obtain information and advice about it.
There are a range of circumstances that are exempt from the standard MIAM requirement, including applications for matrimonial finances under section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and when proceedings are simply for a consent order. Further exemptions are provided to victims of domestic violence, where the application being made carries an element of urgency e.g. international child abduction, or if there is a lack of mediation services available in the local area.
Therefore, unless an exemption applies, a family mediator should be contacted to arrange a MIAM, before any potential application is submitted to court. The mediator should be provided with the contact details of the respondent to the application, so that the mediator can discuss the respondent’s willingness and availability to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting too.
If the parties are willing to attend the MIAM together, the meeting will be held jointly, but if required, the mediation information and assessment meeting can be conducted separately.
The court will expect an applicant to have complied with their MIAM obligations before submitting their application, whilst also expecting a respondent to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting if they are invited to do so. The court holds the authority to place any application on hold before returning the parties to mediation, if they have failed to comply with their MIAM obligations.
Serving Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes, our lawyers can help you with your family law and divorce matters. If you want to talk to one of our solicitors about an application and a MIAM, feel free to contact us on 01234 889777 today.