Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediators are trained to help resolve disputes over all issues faced by separating couples, or specific issues such as arrangements for any children. A mediator will meet with you and your partner together and will identify those issues you can’t agree on and help you to try and reach agreement.

Mediators are neutral and will not take sides, so they cannot give advice to either of you. They will usually recommend that you obtain legal advice alongside the mediation process and will guide you as to when this should happen. However, Resolution trained lawyer mediators will provide general legal information to both of you within the mediation if this is appropriate. Some are qualified to consult with children in mediation.

How does mediation work?

You may contact a mediator directly or your solicitor may refer you. What can you expect to happen?

Mediation assessment

Not everyone is ready for mediation at the same stage in separating, so the mediator needs to find out whether it is suitable for both of you.

Since April 2011, there has been a requirement (with some exceptions) that anybody wanting to go to court should attend a meeting (called a MIAM) with an appropriately qualified mediator to find out about mediation and other non-court options.

Publically funded mediators will also assess your eligibility for financial assistance and explain charges if you are not eligible. If you decide not to mediate, this stage is necessary if you want to go to court, as the court will expect a certificate from the mediator before you start proceedings.

The mediator will speak to you briefly about the process to ensure you understand how it works. They will then contact your partner and have the same conversation with them. Sometimes mediators prefer to do this face to face rather than on the telephone.

Working out the details:

  • Further meetings will be scheduled at which you may work on communication issues, renew arrangements for children, exchange financial information and consider options. The mediator may suggest other help, such as financial advice or support for your children. Between meetings you may wish to meet with your lawyer for advice.

Finalising the proposals:

  • Once you have proposals you both find acceptable the mediator will prepare a summary of them together with a summary of the financial information which will be sent to each of you to discuss with your lawyers. After you have both received legal advice and if you are both still happy with the proposals, the lawyers will convert the summary into a legally binding document and oversee any necessary implementation.

Resolution is a member of the Family Mediation Council (FMC), which sets standards for family mediation. From 2015 there will be one professional accreditation standard, set by the FMC, for all mediators. All Resolution trained mediators will meet this professional standard and will be following the FMC guidelines as they work towards their accreditation, giving you confidence that your Resolution mediator meets the highest professional standard.

Read our helpful mediation flyer here

MIAMS Frequently Asked Questions

A question and answer guide for Litigants in Person.

Question

Answer

What is a MIAM?

MIAM stands for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.

 

It is a first meeting with a specially qualified family mediator to consider whether your family law issues can be resolved without going to court. The mediator will provide you with information about the options available for non-court resolution, including mediation, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages with you. The meeting is confidential.

 

Who can conduct a MIAM?

The mediator must be accredited by the Family Mediation Council and you can search for one online using the following directories at:

www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk.

www.resolution.org.uk/find_a_mediator

 

Where does a MIAM take place?

The MIAM will be held in the mediator's office or an agreed venue. They can on occasion be conducted via online video, such as Skype, if the circumstances require it.

  

When do I have to attend a MIAM?

You must attend a MIAM before issuing an application in the family court unless one of the exemptions applies to your case, including:

  • Domestic Violence (you will need to meet certain criteria);
  • Child protection concerns;
  • Urgency; and
  • Previous attendance at a MIAM or MIAM exemption.

You can find detailed information on the exemptions at www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk.

 

Who will attend the MIAM?

You can either attend the MIAM alone or with your partner, if they agree to it. You can choose and most couples decide attend separately. If you attend together the mediator will speak to each party separately at some point to ensure that you are both comfortable with the process and to check whether there are any issues of harm or abuse. 

 

What happens at the MIAM?

The mediator should:

  • provide you with information about mediation and other forms of dispute resolution, including arbitration and collaborative law;
  • assess the suitability of mediation to resolve the dispute;
  • assess whether there has been or there is a risk of domestic violence and/or harm to a child; and
  • sign post you to any relevant support, for example online information sources about issues arising on separation.

 

What happens after the MIAM?

If you and your partner agree to try mediation you can make an appointment for your first mediation session.

 

If you decide not to proceed with mediation or it is not suitable for your matter, then the mediator will need to sign the relevant court application to show that you have considered mediation. This will enable you to issue your application at court.

 

How much does a MIAM cost?

If you are eligible for legal aid, the MIAM will be free. The mediator will be able to advise you as whether you qualify for legal aid. You can also check on the government's website: www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid

 

The mediator sets the cost of the MIAM and some may provide it free of charge. You should ask the mediator about their charges when you contact them initially.

 

Additional online resources:

 

National Family Mediation – a not for profit family mediation provider: www.nfm.org.uk

 

The government website:  www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/mediation

Considering mediation? Top tips from the Creating paths to Family Justice project