A MIAM is a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting. It’s an opportunity to discuss your case with a mediator and explore the possibility of mediation or alternative routes to court.
It’s compulsory to attend a MIAM unless you qualify for one of the 15 exemptions. This includes children and financial cases.
It is not compulsory
Rather than seeing MIAM as a compulsory hoop to jump through, it is an important meeting that enables couples to consider whether mediation might be a kinder and more cost-effective option than going to court. The fact that it is voluntary means that both parties can decide if they want to mediate and can also opt out if necessary.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the other party habitually lives outside of England and Wales, then it will be impossible to invite them to a MIAM. In this case, the prospective applicant can apply to the court for an exemption.
Other exemptions include if either of the participants are in prison or if there are specific bail conditions that prevent mediation from taking place. However, it is important to note that these exemptions are rarely used as the majority of mediation meetings are now held online. There is also proper policing of MIAMs to ensure that applicants have attempted to attend a MIAM before applying to the court.
It is confidential
The MIAM mediation session lasts for an hour and is held by a qualified mediator. The mediator will discuss your case with you and give you information on mediation and how it might help you. They will also explain the benefits of mediation compared to going to court. They will also provide you with information on other services that can help you, such as debt management, counselling and accommodation.
The mediator will be able to sign the relevant court form, if you need to do so. This is a legal requirement before you can start any court proceedings. It is also a good idea to get independent legal advice before you start the mediation process.
It may be that you decide, after your MIAM session, that mediation is not the right option for you. That is fine, as the mediation process is not compulsory and is not suitable for everyone. However, you should be aware that if you do not attend a MIAM session before making a court application, the other party will know that you did not attend a meeting and could object to your court application.
It is not a trial
Anyone who wants to go to court for an order about arrangements for children or finances must first attend a mediation, information and assessment meeting known as a MIAM. These meetings are free of charge and are held by qualified mediators. You can also claim a refund on the cost of your MIAM if you decide to go ahead with mediation after attending it.
The MIAM will ask you about any other legal proceedings or applications you have pending. If you are worried about facing your ex in mediation because of a history of domestic abuse then you can tell the mediator this. They can explain to you how safeguards can be put in place to help you in this situation.
You can also claim an exemption if you or your ex habitually lives outside of England and Wales. This would make it difficult to physically attend a mediation. However, with online mediation this is now possible.
It is not an option
Although mediation is not compulsory, it can be helpful to resolve a wide range of issues. For example, it can help you and your ex-partner resolve disputes over children’s arrangements and finances, including property, bank accounts and pensions. It is also often used in workplace and civil disputes. However, it is not a substitute for legal advice.
If you decide not to continue with mediation after your MIAM, that is fine. The mediator will then sign a court form to show that you have considered mediation. You can then take your case to court.
However, you should be aware that if your case goes to court, the judge will be expected to ask why you decided not to mediate. In some cases, the judge may decide that your refusal to attend mediation was unreasonable and could order you to pay part of the other party’s legal costs. However, this is not guaranteed. There are a number of exemptions to attending a MIAM, which are explained below.