The first meeting with a mediator is often called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Whether it’s called a MIAM or a first meeting, it will cover the same things.
The first meeting with a mediator gives you the chance to find out how mediation works. Mediators are trained to work out with you whether mediation is right for you and your family. They will also discuss how many sessions you may need, how much they would cost, and explain whether you might get legal aid to pay for mediation.
The mediator can also give you information about other services that provide help and support and the other options you might have to resolve things.
Who can conduct MIAMs?
Only Family Council Accredited mediators (FMCA) can conduct MIAMS.
Do I have to go to a MIAM?
If you want to take your case to court, it is now – in most cases – a legal requirement to attend a MIAM. The other person involved is also expected to attend a MIAM, but they don’t have to go to the same meeting as you.
There are exemptions that mean you might not have to go to a MIAM. It can also be agreed at the MIAM that mediation isn’t right for you. There are a range of options available for resolving family disputes so, even if mediation isn’t right for you, court isn’t the only other option.
Who goes to the meeting?
These meetings can be held separately from your ex. However you can go to the meeting together if you prefer. You can choose. Time will always be spent with each person alone to make sure they have made their own decision to come to mediation and are not at risk of any harm or abuse.
How much does it cost?
The first meeting, and mediation sessions which follow, may cost you nothing if you get legal aid. The mediator will help you work out if you can claim legal aid.
Some mediators provide the first meeting free of charge for everyone and others have a fixed fee. Ask for details of the cost of the meeting when you contact the mediator.
The mediator search shows which mediators are approved to provide legal aid work.
What happens after the first meeting?
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 to sign the relevant court form to show you have considered mediation. This means you can take your case to court, if that’s what you decide to do next.