Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) EXPLAINED…
Juliet Wilkinson is a Family Mediation Council Accredited (FMCA) Family Mediator. She has over 10 years mediation experience, including family, neighbourhood dispute, hate crimes, restorative justice and workplace mediation. In addition, she is a Professional Practice Consultant for family mediators, supporting both new and experienced mediators in their professional development.
Juliet is passionate about the benefits of mediation to help families involved in relationship breakdown to move forward positively. She works with clients to help them better understand their needs and those of their family, so that they can make arrangements for their children and finances that are both informed and realistic.
She believes that the success of family mediation is anchored in ensuring that clients feel safe and listened to throughout the process. Recognising the strong emotions usually present in mediation, she strives to practice with warmth, flexibility and kindness, whilst maintaining strong professional boundaries and a clear grasp of the legal and procedural framework of family law.
Juliet co-founded Able Mediation (www.ablemediation.com), with Nasrin Grayson in 2013. They currently work with both privately and publicly funded clients in Central and West London.
What is MIAM’s?
MIAM is the acronym for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. MIAM’s were first introduced in April 2011 and made mandatory in April 2014 for those wishing to make an application to the family court. This was part of the reforms brought about by the Children and Families Act 2014 that seeks to encourage people to try to resolve their family disputes outside court by raising awareness of mediation and other forms of dispute resolution.
Essentially, a MIAM is the re-branding and standardisation of the assessment meeting that mediators have always been required to have with clients before joint mediation sessions can begin. The key difference is that a mediator who is qualified to run a MIAM also has the authority to sign off the necessary court forms to facilitate an application to court if mediation does not go ahead.
What to expect at a MIAM?
The purpose of a MIAM is to give good quality practical, legal and procedural information to clients to help them make an informed choice about the best options for resolving their dispute. It is an opportunity for clients to talk about their case with an impartial mediator to see if it may be suitable for mediation. The mediator will also give information about other dispute resolution processes including solicitor negotiation, collaborative law, arbitration and court.
The MIAM is also important for a number of other reasons. It is a chance to:
- get to know the mediator and make your own assessment about whether you feel they are trustworthy and are capable of handling the case
- make sure that mediation would be appropriate for all the participants.
- get information about the possible costs of the various dispute resolution processes and assess whether any of the participants may be eligible for Legal Aid for mediation. If they are, mediation will be completely free for that person and the other client will also benefit from a free MIAM and first session. This is as part of the incentive that the Legal Aid Agency is offering to encourage people to mediate.
Who can provide MIAM’s:
Only professional mediators with the following credentials can provide MIAM’s:
- Accredited by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) or, at a minimum, to have attended training, recognised by the FMC, to conduct MIAMs.
- Current membership of one of the FMC Member Organisations, which will mean that the mediator is currently practicing, being actively supervised, is insured and is up to date with their ongoing training.
Is there any way of avoiding a MIAM?
In general, it is a good idea to attend a MIAM as the information given at this meeting can be extremely useful to help clients focus on the best process for resolving their dispute, even if this is not mediation. Ignoring the process is likely to result in delays if an application to court is rejected or the case is postponed until clients have attended a MIAM.
However, there are some special circumstances under which you do not have to attend a MIAM meeting. There has to be clear and documented evidence for this:
- Domestic Violence
- Previous MIAM attendance or previous MIAM exemption
- Others, including:
- no contact details for the other person in the dispute
What happens after a MIAM?
It is only after attending the MIAM that clients decide whether or not they wish to continue into mediation. If mediation goes ahead a joint meeting will then be arranged for both clients and the mediator together.
If mediation does not go ahead, clients or their solicitors may ask the mediator to sign one of the relevant forms to facilitate an application to court. Most mediators do not charge any additional fee for this.