What is changing
From 22 April 2014 people applying to court for most children and financial matters concerning separation will have to first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting(MIAM)
This may seem like a barrier but is an opportunity to resolve family disputes more positively than through an adversarial court system.
A MIAM is a short meeting (usually for you on your own)that provides information about mediation as a way of resolving disputes. This is conducted by a trained and accredited mediator who will help you decide if mediation is right for you and your family situation.
The Legal Background
This change is part of the Children and Families Act2014(Section 10(1). This lists exemptions to this requirement(usually urgent cases, domestic violence and child protection matters)
The court guidance states (see link)‘The adversarial court process is not always best suited to the resolution of family disputes. Such disputes are often best resolved through discussion and agreement, where that can be managed safely and appropriately. Family Mediation is one way of settling disagreements’
About Mediation Information Meetings
These usually last about 45 minutes .
In our service they are always offered to you routinely for you to attend on your own(although you can attend with your ex-partner if you prefer) Later full mediation sessions involve you sitting down together with your partner and a trained mediator. In the initial Information meeting the mediator will:
- Talk through your options
- Explain what mediation is and how it works
- Assess if you are eligible for legal aid and so fee mediation and go through the costs if you do not qualify
- Talk to you about court and other options if mediation is not right for you
At the end you will either go ahead with mediation or the mediator will sign the part of the court application form (C100 , page 19)to show that you have considered mediation and you can then issue court proceedings. See alsohttp://www.nfm.org.uk/index.php/family-mediation/mediation-information-meeting-miam
How much will this meeting cost
If mediation is going ahead our Service does not charge for these initial meetings and you may also be eligible for legal aid to cover the cost. If mediation is not going ahead then we charge £75 for completion of the necessary court form.
Mediation helps you remain in control of what is happening to you and opur family It usually reduces conflict and improves communication which is key for any children involved. It can save a significant amount of time and money compared to lengthy court proceedings.
For more information on how family mediation works see Mediation a step by step Guide
What next? just ring us on 0161 341 0257 or complete the online enquiry form.
Note: there are some other changes; courts will now makes orders for ‘child arrangements’ rather than contact or residence. To help with making arrangements for children you can draw up a Parenting Plan. Your mediator can also help you with this. There will also now be one single Family Court(rather than separate Magistrates and County Courts) which should make it less complicated to apply to court