Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) In Family Proceedings

Valerie Cooper
6 December 2021

In most cases, people prefer to attempt to settle their financial  and children matters out of court in the first instance. There are a number of ways that agreement can be reached without having to attend court. These include mediation, negotiation through solicitors and collaborative law. 

In circumstances where parties cannot reach agreement court proceedings may have to be issued to resolve matters. Before any application for a financial remedy or Children Act proceedings can be issued, the person intending to apply to the court is required to attend a MIAM. 

What is a MIAM? 

A MIAM is an initial meeting with a mediator during which the mediator will assess the suitability of mediation and discuss with you alternatives to attending court. 

A mediator is an independent professional who is trained to assist in resolving matters between parties. It is important to note that not all mediators are legally qualified and therefore consideration should be given as to whether a mediator with a legal background is necessary. In financial remedy cases this will normally depend on the complexity of the case, the assets owned by the parties, and the financial disclosure provided by each party. 

What is the purpose of the MIAM? 

The purpose of the MIAM is to ascertain whether your matter is suitable for mediation. Certain cases will not be suitable. If, following the MIAM, the parties agree that mediation is the appropriate way forward then the mediation process will commence. 

If either party, or the mediator considers that your matter is not suitable for mediation the mediator will provide you with a signed form (FM1) which notifies the court that you have attended a MIAM session. 

Unless you can bring yourself under one of the various exemptions, you must have a signed form (FM1) from the mediator confirming you have attended a MIAM before you can issue an application. The exceptions included matters where there has been domestic violence, the application is made on an urgent basis, there is a bankruptcy order against one of the parties, or if you have previously attended a MIAM 

Where there have been negotiations between solicitors to try and settle a case, which have not been successful and you want to issue proceedings you will need to attend the MIAM merely to attain the signed FM1. It is unusual that you would mediate after negotiations between solicitors have failed as the mediation is unlikely to make further progress and consequently legal proceedings will be inevitable. 

Similarly, if parties agree to engage in mediation but the process later breaks down or no further progress can be made, the mediator can provide an FM1 at that stage. 

Who attends the MIAM? 

Unlike mediation you attend the MIAM without the other party. After your meeting the other party will be invited for a MIAM as well. 

As the law currently stands, only one party is required to attend a mediation session before proceedings can be issued. If the other party does not agree to attend a MIAM this does not preclude the mediator providing a signed FM1.  

How long is a MIAM session?

The session will normally last around 45 minutes.

How much does the MIAM cost? 

The cost of the MIAM will be dependant on the mediator. We therefore suggest that you contact potential mediators to discuss their costs prior to arranging a MIAM.  Costs are also dependant on whether the mediator is legally qualified.  We can assist you in finding a suitable mediator.

Valerie Cooper
Partner - Family Law
Valerie Cooper is a Partner Solicitor at Spencer West. She specialises in family law working with children cases, family and cohabitee issues internationally, offshore and locally.