A MIAM or Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting, is the first step in the mediation process. You need to attend a MIAM if there is a chance you may need to make a court application for a child arrangement order or a financial settlement hearing. So, what is a MIAM and what actually happens in a MIAM?
The MIAM is all about information. Firstly, it allows the family mediator to understand why you have come to mediation and of course what you wish to achieve as a result of the process. The second is to talk to you about the mediation process as well as explore other options which may be available to you. It focusses on an information flow both ways.
What will the family mediator ask in a MIAM?
If you decide mediation is your best option, then your family mediator will likely ask questions about who you wish to mediate with, this is very often your ex-partner, but it could easily be a grandparent wanting contact with their grandchildren. They’ll want to know about your children and the existing agreement you have for their living arrangements unless of course, this is something you are coming to mediate about. If it relates to a financial settlement either as part of a divorce or a separation, then you will be asked about any assets and liabilities you may have.
The family mediator will also want to know about the background leading to why you decided to mediate. It may be due to a recent separation, or an issue relating to child contact, what triggered the change. Very often couples come to mediation collaboratively, meaning they both decide to seek help when they cannot agree between themselves on important family matters. These tend to have a more successful outcome on average.
What happens after a MIAM?
Only when the family mediator has met both parties, do they need to assess whether mediation is a suitable option for attempting to resolve the issues. On many occasions, they may only have to see the first party to come to the same opinion. If the family mediator believes that no agreement could be reached, that is at liberty to direct their clients either other forms of dispute resolution or to ask the courts to decide. Most mediators, however, take a pragmatic approach in suggesting that mediation be attempted. From experience, many clients will modify their original proposals when faced with the option to find agreement there and then rather than face the prospect of going to court.
Where mediation is not deemed an appropriate solution, the family mediator will generally offer their client a signed court form. This could be a C100 child application or Form A, which is non-specific form confirming the applicant has attended a MIAM or an FM1 form which is used when applying for a financial order. Only an accredited family mediator can sign these forms, hence the need for attending a MIAM.
What are the costs of a MIAM?
It is an opportunity for the client to ask questions as most family mediators are extremely knowledgeable. They are also very transparent when it comes to fees. They can often estimate quite accurately how much the whole process may cost you based on different outcomes, so you never have any shocks when the bill is presented. Unlike solicitors, family mediators often charge on a pay as you go basis, no nasty surprises at the end. Usually, all correspondence and administration are included in the meeting fees. The only additional costs, which will normally be discussed and agreed in advance, is if you wish the mediator to draft a Memorandum of Understanding, or summary of outcomes or any financial statements. These are normally charged by the hour, so depending on the complexity, they often are quite quick to draft.
The MIAM normally takes around an hour to complete and given that it is now all online, it’s now more convenient for all parties and potentially more cost-effective.
Arrange a MIAM with Family Mediation & Counselling Services
If you would like to arrange a MIAM with one of our advisors, then please get in touch with us. For more information about mediation information and assessment meetings, please call us on 0330 113 0005 or you can request a callback here.