What is a MIAM? - Mediation Intake Assessment Meeting?
What is a MIAM?
A MIAM is a Mediation Intake Assessment Meeting where a mediator explains how mediation can help you sort out arrangements for any children and agree your financial settlement. The government wants to encourage the use of family mediation to reduce the number of cases being decided at court. Everyone who wants to apply to court in family proceedings (with some exceptions) must see an accredited mediator to hear about mediation and to decide whether they want to try and resolve their disagreements in mediation. Not all cases are suitable for mediation and this is a meeting to consider mediation, not to make people actually mediate, as mediation is voluntary.
You may come to an assessment together or apart, as you both prefer. Just tell us when we speak to you to fix your appointment.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process by which an impartial third party (the mediator) helps people to agree a settlement or sort out their children in mediation. Legal information can be given, where appropriate, but your solicitors will be able to give you best interests advice. Full information about mediation will be given at the mediation assessment, which will usually take about an hour.
What does a mediation intake assessment cost?
If either one of you qualifies for Legal Aid and produces evidence of your income, then neither of you will have to pay for the assessment. If one of you has already paid, they will be refunded the cost of their assessment. If neither of you qualify for Legal Aid, then you will pay £150 + VAT for a joint assessment (£90 each) and £100 + VAT each for separate assessments (£120 each).
How long will mediation take if we go ahead with it?
Mediations vary, but normally there will be between one and five sessions of about 1½ - 2 hours each, with an action plan between sessions, so that matters can be progressed. Under normal circumstances, an average mediation should be over in two to five months.
What is an FM1?
An FM1 is the form required at court if you wish to issue proceedings. It gives the court information about your mediation or assessment and allows you to apply to court. Accredited Focus Mediators can provide FM1's where needed.
What if you don’t think mediation will work for you?
Most people sort everything out somehow, and many people don’t want the cost and delay of fully fledged court proceedings. Most mediations, that run to the end, are fully successful. Of those that start mediation about 70% are successful with the remainder breaking down. Sometimes, mediation works to resolve some issues but not all of them, but that in itself can be very helpful. For example, instead of having two sets of court proceedings – you may only have one. Sorting out some issues saves time and money.
What about my solicitor?
Your solicitor can advise you on your options and your reasonable goalposts for settling matters, i.e. what you might get if you go to court. At the end of financial mediation you will have a non-binding agreement, which your solicitor can make binding for you if needed.
Won’t it be more expensive to have a solicitor and a mediator?
No, it usually saves costs overall. Mostly, the cost of mediation is significantly less than the cost of going to court, as you share mediation costs and the process is much quicker. Mediators may work in parallel, both with solicitors and the courts. For example, a couple might mediate child contact/residence arrangements, but the court might have to decide whether the mother is allowed to move away with the children. In one example where the court took that decision, the court sent the couple back to mediation to mediate the arrangements for contact after the mother and children had moved away. It is likely there is going to be a huge amount more flexibility and co-operation between solicitors, the courts and family mediators. This has to be better for most clients, and we look forward to co-operating with our professional colleagues to help clients have the best possible service. At court people focus on the limited range of options a judge can order and on 'winning'. In mediation everyone focuses on a proper evaluation of options, including some the court could not order. It isn't surprising the outcomes are usually better.