What is a MIAM?
MEDIATION INFORMATION AND ASSESSMENT MEETINGS
Mediation is a voluntary process, involving qualified and impartial mediators. Every client who expresses an interest in mediation begins the process with an Information and Assessment meeting.
A mediation information and assessment meeting (often called a MIAM) is a meeting with a family mediator, accredited with the Family Mediation Council, the aim of which is:
To explore whether mediation would be a safe and effective process in the circumstances of your matter; and
If court proceedings are being considered whether mediation could be an alternative to litigation in your particular circumstances; and
To explain to you the alternatives to the court process available to separating or divorcing couples including mediation; and
To provide you with neutral information about your legal and financial options; and
To give you an opportunity to decide whether going to court would be the best way of resolving the issues surrounding your relationship or marriage breakdown (for example in respect of children, property and financial settlements).
Since 22 April 2014, almost all divorcing and separating couples in England and Wales who want to use the court process to resolve any disagreements about children or money must prove that they have made a referral for a MIAM first. You cannot issue an application at court without either:
a record of a MIAM referral having been made or
claiming one of the specific exemptions explained in the form.
If there has been a referral for a MIAM followed by a meeting, the mediator is authorised to sign the court application form, if mediation is not suitable in your case.
The court will check whether any other exemption is validly claimed and will usually require that you attend a MIAM if no exemption in fact applies. A judge may also choose not to hear a case until both people have shown that they have considered mediation.
This means that, even if you are quite sure that mediation or one of the other alternatives to court is not for you, attending a MIAM will help you avoid unnecessary delays whether you are the person who is applying to the court, or the other person. Far more positively, the MIAMs meeting gives you a chance to decide, with professional assistance, how best to conduct your separation or divorce in the best interests of yourself and your family.
You can find more information about mediation on the FMC website at www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk
The meeting will be conducted by a mediator authorised by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) to conduct MIAMs, on an individual basis that will involve you and the mediator discussing your personal situation on an entirely confidential basis subject to the exemptions set out below.
During the meeting the mediator will provide information about the options available to you to resolve the issues around your separation and will discuss with you the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The mediator will also ask you questions and make an assessment to decide whether or not mediation might be a suitable way forward for your family in your own particular circumstances.
The mediator will then decide whether mediation would be a safe and effective option in your particular situation and if suitable invite you both to enter into mediation. It is up to you and your former partner to choose whether to try mediation or not. Mediation is always voluntary.
You are required to attend a MIAM before issuing a court application, but you are not required to mediate. That is a decision for you both. If you decide that you do not want to mediate, then the mediator will sign your court application form to confirm that you have attended but that mediation is not going ahead.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
Where any person (particularly a child) is at risk of serious harm, the family mediator has a duty to contact the appropriate authorities.
In common with all other relevant professionals, the family mediator may be required to disclose to the appropriate government authority information with regard to the commission of any relevant, previously undisclosed, criminal offence for example money laundering. The mediator may also be under a linked obligation to make such disclosure without informing you and may have to discontinue the meeting without further notice.
Exceptionally, the family mediator may disclose personal data in connection with the alleged or established commission of an unlawful act.
The family mediator is a ‘processor’ of personal data for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998. You will be asked at the initial meeting to consent to the mediator processing your personal data for the purposes of mediation. You understand that this includes the mediator retaining and storing your personal data for as long as is necessary in this connection. The mediator may retain data for research and statistical purposes but on the understanding that if used it has been stripped of all features from which you could personally be identified.