Talking Divorce – what is a MIAM? (Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM)
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I’ve started filming a comprehensive series of Divorce videos called ‘Divorce – Step By Step’ where I will cover your emotional wellbeing, informing you of your legal choices and financial options, supporting and helping you with my ideas for positive co- parenting & I will also be looking at the wider issues like losing some friends or family who take sides, or give you well meant advice that doesn’t really help, as well as looking at how to handle all the roller coaster of decisions you will be making at this highly stressful time.
The videos are designed to help you navigate the extremely challenging time of going through a divorce. As I believe divorce is a process NOT an event and many parents I work with are transfixed in fear, overwhelm, grief, anger & confusion during this time so my videos are designed to support you practically. I will also be sign posting you to the relevant professional who can give you in depth, relevant advice for your particular circumstances.
Getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership can be an extremely emotional, worrying and difficult time. At such a stressful time you need someone on your side who will be there for you and a family law solicitor will support you through the divorce process, and will give you advice that you can trust about the things that matter most – your children, your home and your financial security.
Are you feeling overwhelmed, confused, or afraid about trying to sort out your finances as part of your divorce or ending your civil partnership?
You need to apply for a financial order.
My new videos that are launching soon to help but here is a small guide to help you by explaining what you need to do and how to do it. It will help you manage the whole process, step by step but my advice is to speak to a qualified family solicitor to get the exact advice you need for your family.
Before you start court proceedings you will need to attend Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM)
Anyone thinking of applying for a financial order has to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) unless they are exempt or the order they are applying for is a consent order. This applies whether you are applying for a court order yourself without the help of a lawyer (you are a ‘litigant in person’) or you are represented by a lawyer and whether you have legal aid or not.
The purpose of this meeting is to:
give you information about how you might be able to sort out or divide up your finances without going to court; and
assess whether mediation is a safe way for you and your ex to try and do this.
You contact an authorised family mediator to set up a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. They will invite you to attend a MIAM either separately or together with your ex. You can find an authorised family mediator by searching here: Find your local mediation
Let’s look at what happens at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
The meeting will probably last about 40-45 minutes. The mediator:
Explains what family mediation and other forms of dispute resolution are and how they work.
Explains the benefits of mediation, other forms of dispute resolution, and the likely costs.
Answers any questions you have about your situation and how mediation might work for you.
Assesses whether you are eligible for legal aid for mediation or will have to pay for it.
Assesses whether mediation or other form of dispute resolution is suitable in your case.
Completes the relevant part of Form A if you want to make a court application.
Family mediation is not the same as ‘marriage guidance’; it is not intended to help you work out the differences in your relationship or about getting back together. In fact it is the opposite; family mediation aims to help you to agree how you will live apart. In a situation where you cannot agree how to sort out your finances, a family mediator can help you discuss possible solutions. But it is not the mediator who makes the decisions or agrees to a plan; it is you.
Trained mediators can help you talk to each other and find solutions, even when it is hard. They are there to assist you both and can provide you with a safe and supportive environment where you can work out solutions together. But, nobody has to use mediation.
Once you have been to the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, you or the family mediator may decide there are reasons why mediation will not work. This may be because there has been domestic abuse in your relationship. It may be that one or more of you have a drug or alcohol problem or a mental illness. That problem or illness may create such a big risk that it isn’t safe for mediation to take place.
Circumstances when you don’t have to attend a MIAM
There are some circumstances when you don’t have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. For example, if your application is urgent or where there has been domestic violence between you within the past 24 months involving the police or civil proceedings. (If you didn’t report it, you still need to speak to a mediator but can explain that you don’t want to use mediation because there has been violence between you).
You can find the full list of circumstances in which you can ask the court to agree that you don’t have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (the law calls this ‘claiming an exemption’) in para 3.8 of Part 3 of the Family Procedure Rules here: MIAM exemptions
If you want to claim exemption from attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, there is a section of the application form (Form A) that you must complete if or when you apply for a court order. You can find a link to this form in the Forms and rules section below.
How much does it cost to go to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting?
Charges vary from one mediation service to another and often according to your gross annual income. When you phone a family mediator to arrange a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, ask about how much they charge. Some make no charge for the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting itself but charge for completing the relevant section of Form A.
If you are entitled to legal aid then the initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, completing the relevant section of Form A and any later mediation sessions are all free. But you must take documents proving what your income is and what savings you have to the first meeting. The mediation service will explain what evidence of your means they need to see in more detail, but if you are not clear what to take with you, don’t hesitate to ring them and ask. Without this evidence you risk getting charged because the service won’t be able to assess your eligibility for legal aid.
Forms and rules
You can find Form A
Notice of an application for a financial order (Form A) and court guidance about Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
Practice direction 3A – Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings by clicking on here -> http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/form-a-eng.pdf
My thanks to to http://www.advicenow.org.uk
If you’d like to work with my personally for 6 weeks click on here ->
6-Week Divorce Coaching – Putting Your Children First Programme
If you’d like to buy my inexpensive Conversational Cards to help you and your family click on the links below.
Talking To Children About Divorce
20 Questions I would like to ask about Divorce for Kids
Talking about Divorce – Legal Conversations