What is a MIAM? The Process Explained
If you are looking to take your family dispute to court, it is likely that you’ll have to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) beforehand.
A MIAM is a meeting that takes place with a specialist family mediator, who evaluates your dispute and considers with you whether it can be resolved without the involvement of court.
During the MIAM meeting, the mediator will discuss your non-court based options, 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 without having to go through legal proceedings.
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:
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. First of all, the mediator will want to understand your particular circumstances and the issues you want to resolve. 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:
- What mediation is
- How the mediation process works
- The advantages and disadvantages of mediation
- Alternative methods of dispute resolution
- The costs of mediation
- Who pays for mediation
- Your eligibility for free mediation with legal aid
- The best model of mediation for your particular situation
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.
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.
Where does the MIAM take place?
Most MIAM meetings are held online but many mediators offer MIAM sessions in person.
Online sessions are conducted over video conferencing, using platforms such as Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime. This is most popular way to hold MIAM sessions, as it rules out the inconvenience and costs of travel.
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.
For instance, if you want to obtain a child arrangement agreement through court, you would need to provide proof of MIAM attendance. This means that if one party refuses mediation, you may not be able to make an application through court.
There are some exemptions that include:
- Domestic violence
- Child protection
- Previous MIAM attendance
- MIAM exemption
Court action should only be used when protection of the law is required.
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 can always bring a friend to your MIAM to give you moral support. Having someone with you is also 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?
If one party refuses to attend a MIAM, then the other party must still continue with the session as planned.
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.
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. The mediator will also provide you with a signed form if they believe that mediation would not be suitable for your case.
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.
- Identify verification documentation – You may be asked to provide two forms of ID to prove your identity.
- Be somewhere confidential if you are joining remotely - Try to ensure you won’t be interrupted during the meeting.
- Make notes on what you wish to discuss – This can help you make the most of your MIAM session and ensure that all of your points are raised.
- 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.
Tel: 0330 320 7600
Referring a client? We also have a mediation referral form for solicitors.