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Under section 10(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014, it is now a requirement for a person to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment) before making certain kinds of applications to obtain a court order.
A MIAM must be conducted by an authorised family mediator. An authorised family mediator is someone who is subject to the Family Mediation Council's code of conduct, and who is certified to undertake MIAMs. To find your nearest authorised family mediator please visit www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk.
The person who would be the respondent to the application is expected to attend the MIAM too. The court has a general power to adjourn court proceedings in order for non-court dispute resolution to be attempted, including attendance at a MIAM to consider family mediation and other options. It therefore makes sense to attempt mediation sooner rather than later, otherwise you risk further delay if the Judge adjourns the court proceedings in order to return the matter to mediation.
A MIAM is a short meeting that provides information about mediation (and other dispute resolution options) as a way of resolving disputes. A MIAM is conducted by a trained mediator who will assess whether mediation is appropriate in the circumstances. A MIAM should be held within 15 business days of contacting the mediator.
There are exemptions to the MIAM requirement which relate to (1) domestic violence, (2) the applicant’s bankruptcy or (3) a mediator located within 15 miles of the applicant’s home address not being able to offer the applicant an appointment within the required 15 business days or there being no mediator within 15 miles of the applicant’s home. If an applicant claims a MIAM exemption, the court will issue proceedings but will inquire into the exemption claimed, either at the stage at which the case is allocated or at the first hearing. At the first hearing, the court may review any supporting evidence in order to ensure that the MIAM exemption was validly claimed. If a MIAM exemption has not been validly claimed, the court may direct the applicant or the parties to attend a MIAM, and may adjourn proceedings for that purpose.
The proceedings to which the MIAM requirement applies are the private law proceedings relating to children (child arrangement orders, change of name, removal from jurisdiction, parental responsibility etc) and the proceedings for financial remedies in divorce and dissolution.
You should contact your chosen mediator to find out what their fees are. Visit www.gov.uk/legal-aid to find out if you may be eligible for legal aid to cover the cost of mediation. Legal Aid is not available for the majority of family law court proceedings.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles