The first meeting with a mediator is often called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting or MIAM. Whether it’s called a MIAM or a first meeting, it will cover the same things.
The MIAM will last about an hour, and will give you an opportunity to tell the mediator about your situation, and the issues that need to be decided. The mediator will tell you about the mediation process and other options for reaching agreements.
At the end of the meeting, the mediator will tell you whether your case is suitable for mediation, and you can decide whether you want to proceed with mediation or explore another option for resolving issues. The mediator can also give you information about other services which provide help and support.
If you agree, the mediator might also refer you to other organisations who can help you, such as those who can offer counselling, debt advice, or information about how to parent co-operatively after separation, where these are relevant.
If you have children who are over the age of 10, the mediator will discuss with you their rights to have their views taken into account. This is an important part of the process designed to support the health and well-being of the children as well as to help parents come to good workable decisions. Research shows this part of the process brings real benefits to your children and to parents as they make decisions for the family.
Contact an FMC Registered Mediator to arrange an information and assessment meeting – you can find one using the search facility here.
How much does it cost?
The MIAM and mediation sessions which follow will cost you nothing if you get legal aid. The mediator will help you work out if you can claim legal aid. The mediator search shows which mediators are approved to provide legal aid work.
If you are not eligible for legal aid, the mediator will charge for the meeting. The cost will vary depending on your provider and where in the country they are based, so you should ask for details of the cost of the meeting when you contact the mediator.
As a guide, you can expect to pay about £120 per person for a MIAM.
What happens after the first meeting or MIAM?
If everyone agrees to try mediation then an appointment is made for your first mediation session.
If you decide not to continue into mediation, or it’s not suitable in your circumstances, then the mediator will have explained the range of other options for resolving things as part of the information and assessment meeting or MIAM. If you decide to make an application to court to resolve an issue discussed at the MIAM, then you can ask the mediator to sign the court form, as long as you attended the MIAM within the last four months.
Do I have to go to a MIAM?
If you want to take your case to court then, in most cases, you will have to attend a MIAM before making an application. There are only a few specific circumstances where this requirement does not apply (mainly involving domestic abuse). This is because court action should be used only where the protection of the law is required or, as a last resort when alternative ways of resolving things haven’t worked.
If the court has told you that your ex has made an application to resolve issues related to children or finances following divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, the judge will also expect you to have attended a MIAM, unless the same specific circumstances apply.
Going to a MIAM isn’t the same as going to Mediation. A MIAM will help you understand the options available to sort out the issues that need to be resolved, and to choose the best option.
This flowchart from Resolution sets out some of the other options that a mediator may discuss with you.
A full list of the circumstances in which the court does not expect a person to have attended a MIAM is set out here.
Who can sign court forms to say I have been to a MIAM?
Only mediators accredited by the Family Mediation Council can sign a court form to say you have been to a MIAM. An accredited mediator is known as “FMCA”.
You can find you nearest FMCA mediator here, by entering your postcode and clicking ‘Qualified to sign court forms’.