In this resource we take a look at the first stage of mediation after you have made an enquiry 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 your ex-partner, or you and a grandparent/s. 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, but you can bring someone for moral support for example a parent or new partner, however they will be unable to attend joint sessions.
The MIAM offers both yourself and your ex-partner an opportunity to discuss with the mediator your situation separately to help the mediator gain a better understanding of what your concerns are, what you would like to achieve from mediation and to help you to understand the mediation process and what it involves.
Usually lasting one hour approximately, the mediator will talk to you about the situation as it stands between you and your ex-partner and can include information such as what contact they are having with any children (where relevant), your concerns about the situation or contact, 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 as well discussing with you alternatives to mediation such as the court system etc. The mediator will also explain to you about mediation, how it is confidential, the way in which it will work after the initial MIAM, joint sessions etc. and also how mediation can potentially 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 severe domestic abuse, admissions of criminal activity, certain disabilities or issues of safety 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 feel that this is the case. You would then discuss with the mediator your options.
MIAM form for court?
At the end of the MIAM the mediator will take your ex partners details and explain to you the next steps in regard to contacting your ex-partner and inviting them to attend a MIAM in the same way in which 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.
What about financial matters in Mediation?
Not all cases in mediation are just about children. There are divorce or separation cases where people are in dispute about finances or even both children and finances. If financial cases (including property, bank accounts, pensions etc) are the topic of issue the mediator will inform you of the process in your MIAM, as it differs to 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 that you gain 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://www.centreforresolution.com/resources/mediation/family/about-the-family-mediation-council
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