Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
A MIAM is a first meeting with a Family Mediator.
The purpose is for the client to find out about the Mediation process and for the Mediator to decide if Mediation is appropriate.
The Mediator will obtain details of the issues that need resolving, discuss how many mediation sessions are likely to be needed and also explain the costs.
Ringrose Family Mediation Service are able to offer Legal Aid to those who qualify financially.
Only a specially accredited Mediator can carry out a MIAM.
Where a client wishes to pursue Court proceedings, e.g. in relation to finances or children issues, it is, in most cases, a legal requirement to attend a MIAM.
If Mediation is not suitable the Mediator will sign a form to that effect which is attached to the Court application form.
There are exemptions that mean that attendance at a MIAM is not necessary.
If one party has Legal Aid for Mediation the other party is entitled to a MIAM free of charge, even if he/she would not qualify for Legal Aid.
The relationship between Family Mediation and Legal Advice.
People chose to attend Mediation so that a Family Mediator can help in making decisions, for example about divorce, financial settlements and any issues relating to children such as where they will live and how much time will be spend with each parent.
Mediation provides time and space for the parties to consider what is important for the families.
Whilst at Ringrose Family Mediation Service our Mediators are also specialist Family Law Solicitors with many years’ experience, Mediators cannot give legal advice but can provide legal information upon which decisions can be based.
Some people find it helpful to have legal advice during the Mediation process. This must be from independent Solicitors.
A Family Solicitor can help in areas such as:
- Any legal queries connected with the Mediation discussions.
- Advice on any proposals reached.
- Turning a Written Agreement into a legally binding document such as a Consent Order.
Where parties are working through issues in Mediation there is much less need for a Solicitors time. This means that legal fees can be kept to a minimum.
Legal Aid is available for Family Mediation for those who qualify financially, and Solicitors with a Legal Aid Contract can offer limited Legal Aid to advise on the Mediation discussions.
Involving Children in Family Mediation
All Mediators are trained to help parents think about how they can support their children, particularly when parents separate.
At Ringrose Family Mediation Service I have an additional qualification to see children separately as part of the Mediation process, as does my co-Mediator, Paul Cooper.
As a matter of general Family Law, The United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child requires that a child who is capable of forming his or her own views has the right to express those views. It goes on to specify that “the views of the child shall be given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child”.
The Family Mediation Council’s Code of Practice requires that all children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard directly during the Mediation if they wish.
If you are involved in Family Mediation and wish the voices of children to be heard, we will explain the process to you and consider whether this is appropriate.
Both parents have to consent to the children taking part.
As Paul and I are both qualified to work with children the model we follow is for one Mediator to mediate between the parents and the other with the children. That way a balance can be struck to the benefit of all concerned.
Family Mediation and Domestic Abuse
Whilst Family Mediation is invaluable in helping parties to make decisions concerning the family, sometimes it may not be suitable.
At a MIAM the Mediator will consider whether Mediation is right and if it is safe. The Mediator will not force either party to attend Mediation.
The Mediator has to ensure that parties are not scared and that they can discuss issues constructively without being intimidated or harmed.
Mediation would not go ahead if domestic abuse is ongoing. Where this is the case the Mediator can “signpost” a party to advice agencies, for example domestic abuse refuges.
In cases where a party has evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse, attendance at a MIAM will not be necessary and, subject to qualifying financially, a party may be able to get Legal Aid to take the case to Court.
If you are interested in Family Mediation please contact Helen Armstrong on 01205 311511.
We have offices at Boston, Sleaford, Lincoln, Newark, Grantham and Spalding.