What is a MIAM? the process explained

If you're considering going to court to address issues relating to arrangements for children or the division of finances alongside a divorce, you will need to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) beforehand unless an exemption applies.

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A MIAM is a meeting that takes place with a specialist family mediator, who discusses your situation with you and helps you to understand whether it can be resolved without the involvement of court (what is known as non-court dispute resolution).

During the MIAM meeting, the mediator will outline your options outside of court, such as family mediation,so you can make an informed choice about the best way for you to resolve the issues you have raised. They will help you understand what mediation involves, its pros and cons, and assess how mediation could help you resolve your dispute.

The MIAM meeting is fully confidential, and in most cases, it is a legal requirement if you intend to take your family issue to court.

Situations when a MIAM is used

A MIAM is used in a variety of situations to assess whether your dispute can be resolved through mediation, rather than going to court. Some of the most common reasons for attending a MIAM include:

  • The division of finances on divorce: such as the division of property and assets, financial support (spousal maintenance), the division of pensions, and other legal considerations.
  • Child arrangements: such as where and with whom a child will live, setting visitation schedules, and outlining the responsibilities of each parent.

If, after assessing the situation, the mediator believes that mediation could help resolve the situation, then the parties can proceed to detailed mediation sessions with a specialist mediator.

These sessions aim to facilitate a mutually agreeable resolution, tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the dispute.

As part of the MIAM process, the mediator will typically meet with both clients separately. In the separate MIAMs, the mediator will screen to make sure that mediation is likely to be safe and appropriate. If the mediator feels that this is not the case, they will help clients to also consider other forms of non-court dispute resolution and can provide clients with legal and practical information.

What happens in a MIAM?

One of the most common questions that people have when they are asked to attend a MIAM is what actually happens in the session?

The MIAM is all about helping you work out the best way for you to move forward from your dispute. First of all, the mediator will want to understand your particular circumstances and the issues you want to resolve. For example, the mediator might evaluate how to address dividing a couple's assets and determining arrangements for their children.

The mediator will give you tailor-made information about the different dispute resolution processes available to you. This includes assessing whether your issue could be resolved through mediation.

During your MIAM session, the mediator will discuss:

Your mediator will make an assessment of whether mediation is going to be safe, suitable and effective for you. You will also be able to determine whether you’d like to continue with mediation, or settle your dispute through family court.

How long is a MIAM?

The MIAM session typically lasts around 45 minutes to an hour.

Here's what you need to know to make the most of it:

  • Preparation: consider what you wish to resolve and gather any relevant information beforehand.
  • Structure: the session includes an overview of mediation, a chance for you to share your situation, and guidance on next steps.
  • Follow-up: depending on its outcome, you might proceed with mediation or be given information on the next steps to make an application to court.
  • Confidentiality: discussions in the MIAM are private, facilitating open dialogue.

Who conducts the MIAM?

The MIAM session is conducted by a trained, qualified family mediator. The family mediator must be accredited by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) in order to carry out MIAMs.

Learn more about our mediators to find profiles of each mediator, highlighting qualifications and areas of expertise.

Where does the MIAM take place?

MIAM meetings are held online via Zoom.

Do I have to attend a MIAM?

Under section 10(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014, it is a requirement to attend MIAM prior to making an application for a court order (in most cases). You therefore have to attend a MIAM session if you intend to obtain a court order.

Even if you are not the person making an application to court (i.e., it is your ex or a third party making the application) you will still be expected to have found out about your options regarding family mediation and other forms of non-court dispute resolution by attending a MIAM.

There are some exemptions from attending a MIAM that include:

  • Domestic abuse or violence
  • Child protection concerns
  • Urgency
  • Previous MIAM attendance
  • MIAM exemption

Who else attends the session?

MIAMs must be conducted with each of you separately. Apart from the normal exceptions regarding serious risk of harm, everything you say in your MIAM is totally confidential. The mediator will use this opportunity to assess whether there are any concerns of abuse or harm. Having your own individual meeting gives you the chance to be frank about your concerns so the mediator can help you work out how best to proceed.

You may be able to have someone attend to support you in the MIAM. It is recommended that you inform the office of this first. Having someone with you can be helpful as they will probably remember things that the mediator has said when you discuss the meeting later.

What if my partner won’t attend a MIAM?

Since MIAM attendance is a requirement for obtaining a court order, the non-attending party will not be able to apply for a court order. This means that the partner who does not attend will not be able to apply for a child arrangement agreement, or property agreement in court, for example, only you, as you will have attended a MIAM.

As detailed above, if the matter proceeds to court, the person that is responding to the court application will also be expected to have attended a MIAM and a judge can direct them to do this.

What happens after the MIAM?

If both parties agree to take part in mediation, your mediator will arrange an appointment for your first mediation session following the MIAM.

If you or the other party do not agree to take part in mediation, your mediator will provide a signed certificate that proves that you have attended the MIAM. You must have attended the MIAM in the past 4 months in order to make an application to settle your issue in court.

How much does a MIAM cost?

As a guide, an initial MIAM session usually costs around £120 per person. The MIAM may cost you nothing at all if you are eligible for legal aid, which covers the cost of the session. Mediation First can assess your eligibility for legal aid before the MIAM goes ahead.

At the MIAM the mediator will also discuss and explain the costs of the mediation if you decide to proceed.

If you aren’t sure, ask a mediator.

What to prepare for a MIAM

A MIAM is an unfamiliar situation for most people, and many people have questions about what to prepare for the session.

Here is an overview of what to prepare for a MIAM:

  • Make note of your appointment date, and set a reminder – It’s important that you do not forget to attend.
  • Test remote video connection for online MIAM – Make sure that your computer or laptop is working correctly with a suitable connection for your online MIAM session.
  • Read any materials provided by your mediator – Your mediator will provide information about the MIAM session prior to it taking place. Make sure to familiarise yourself with anything that they send across.
  • Be somewhere confidential if you are joining remotely - Try to ensure you won’t be interrupted during the meeting.
  • Bring a notepad to the MIAM – A notepad can help you make notes during your MIAM meeting and ensure that you do not forget important details.

Book a MIAM appointment

Resolve your disputes today with Mediation First. Get in touch with us to book your MIAM appointment.

Online form: Get in touch

Tel: 0330 320 7600
Email: office@mediationfirst.co.uk.

Referring a client? We also have a mediation referral form for solicitors.


Can you go to court without a MIAM?

Yes, you can go to court without attending a MIAM in certain circumstances, such as cases involving domestic abuse and violence, urgency, or if you've attended a MIAM within the last four months for a related issue. However, for most family disputes, attending a MIAM is a required step before court proceedings.

What is the difference between MIAM and mediation?

The MIAM is an initial meeting to explore and understand the mediation process, assess its suitability for your situation, and discuss alternatives to court. Mediation, on the other hand, involves a series of sessions where an impartial mediator helps both parties work towards reaching a mutual agreement on their dispute.