Since April 2014, it has been mandatory to seek Family Mediation at the very least by attendance at an MIAM meeting. A MIAM meeting is an acronym for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. A certified family mediator will define what mediation entails and determine if your case is appropriate for mediation.
Although mediation is voluntary for both parties, if you appear in court and the judge determines that you would benefit from discussing the difficulties at a mediation conference, the judge may delay your case while you return and seek to settle the issues through mediation.
A MIAM is necessary if you desire to file a C100 Form with the court to settle parenting concerns or a Form A with the court to resolve financial difficulties during your divorce or separation.
This is because the courts, the Ministry of Justice, and the majority of legal specialists feel that a mediation conference is the preferable method for resolving financial or parental concerns.
The Benefits of Family Mediation:
However, Family Mediation is not appropriate in every scenario, and the court now recognises 15 exemptions for not attending an MIAM. We will go through each of these exclusions in detail below.
You are not required to attend family mediation if you have been a victim of domestic abuse. However, you must submit evidence of the abuse to the court along with your application. You will need to demonstrate that the other party was arrested for domestic violence or that any criminal processes are ongoing. Without this, you must present documented evidence of domestic violence from a physician, domestic abuse organisation, or other professional entity.
If you or the Respondent live outside of England or Wales on a regular basis, you are not required to attend an MIAM. Due to the difficulty of physically attending an MIAM, the court does not require you to attend mediation. This may change in the near future, though, with the emergence of Online Mediation.
If you do not know where they reside and have taken reasonable attempts to ascertain their whereabouts, you will be unable to invite them to mediation, and so will not be required to attend an MIAM.
If you attended an MIAM within the past four months, you are not required to attend another. The MIAM certificate must be dated within four months, which means you must attend a fresh MIAM meeting if it is more than four months old. In such instances, you may choose to pursue a Court MIAM on a fast-track basis.
If an existing case is pending in court and you are filing a new or supplemental application, you do not need to schedule a new MIAM appointment. You should inform the court of the specifics of your case. However, procedures must be continuing and not ended — earlier court hearings, even if they involve the same persons, do not count.
The court will determine the urgency in this case. Of course, most situations affecting children are urgent, particularly for their parents, but these instances typically include a risk to the child’s life or significant injury. Additionally, it can be utilised if the kid is due to be removed from the country illegally. You should seek legal assistance if a situation concerning your kid is really urgent.
If you are submitting a C100 form and the child is covered by a child protection plan or the local authority is conducting an investigation into the child’s safety – for example, if the child has been placed under police protection – you are not required to attend an MIAM prior to submitting the C100.
This, too, is frequently motivated by concern for the safety of the individuals involved. Normally, a court would decide whether this applies under Section 5.1 of Practice Direction 18A:
If you have a handicap that prevents you from reaching a family mediator within 15 miles of your home, you are not required to attend an MIAM meeting as long as you have attempted them all, or at least three if there are many mediators. The court will want proof that you attempted. Additionally, you should consider attending an Online MIAM or perhaps having your MIAM conducted by telephone in emergency situations – such as during the Covid lockdowns.
If you or the other party is incarcerated, mediation cannot take place and you are thus not required to attend an MIAM appointment. While you may request authorization to mediate while subject to bail conditions or restrictions of your licence prohibiting you from contacting the opposing party, this is also a reason why an MIAM exemption might be granted.
Mediation is only permitted between adults; therefore, if you or the other party are under the age of 18, you are not required to attend an MIAM and may proceed directly to court.
If you can demonstrate that there is no family mediator within 15 miles of your home, you are exempt from attending mediation. In such instances, you should explore Online Mediation or hosting an Online MIAM.
If you have contacted all mediators within 15 miles of your residence – or at least three if there are more – and they have all informed you that they are unable to hold an MIAM meeting within 15 working days (3 weeks), you are not required to wait and may submit your C100 Form or Form A to court without the MIAM certificate. The majority of businesses can now arrange sessions within this timeframe, particularly those that provide MIAMs or Family Mediation Online.
If you are sending a Form A for a Financial Order or a C100 for a Child Arrangements Order by consent, that is, if you have both reached an agreement and intend to have it made legally enforceable, you do not need to mediate – and hence do not need to attend an MIAM.
Bankruptcy complicates the financial arrangement greatly, as the bankrupt individual does not have direct control or ownership of their financial assets. In these instances, mediation would be inappropriate, and hence there is no need for an MIAM. If this is the case with your divorce or separation, you should seek immediate legal guidance.
These are the fifteen reasons why the court will now let you to seek an exemption from an MIAM Certificate. As you can see, in the majority of circumstances, even if mediation does not proceed, you will be required to attend an MIAM. If you have been asked to an MIAM but have declined, the court will normally want an explanation. Consider our blog “Will it seem terrible if I do not attend mediation?”
If you have genuine reasons to bypass mediation and proceed directly to court, or if you know that the other party will undoubtedly refuse to attend mediation – or if your situation is urgent but does not meet one of the criteria above, you can complete an Online MIAM and typically receive your MIAM certificate the same or next day.