What is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting?
Most people asking the Family Courts for an Order relating to their children or their property are required to lodge a certificate stating that they have attended a meeting with a qualified mediator and discussed the possibility of resolving their dispute by mediation.
It is now well established that where children are involved it is far better for family disputes to be settled amicably. Judges, lawyers and other professionals working with the consequences of family breakdown know this all too clearly.
This emphasis on mediation is intended to change attitudes and establish the expectation that separating couples will meet with a professionally qualified mediator to make arrangements for their separation or divorce. Against this background, the Courts should become a place of last resort.
The initial meeting with a mediator is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and must be conducted by a qualified mediator. It is a confidential meeting. Generally, the parties attend separately. As its name suggests the purpose of the meeting is to provide information about mediation and assess whether it could be helpful.
Legal aid is still available for family mediation for those who are financially eligible. Where people are not eligible for legal aid, family mediation still offers a cheaper, quicker and generally more satisfactory solution than the Courts. More and more separated parents now seek the help of a professional mediator to resolve problems that might otherwise result in months or even years of conflict, much unhappiness and great expense.
Nicholas von Benzon
Family Mediator and Director of Cheltenham Mediation Services Ltd