The object of the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM’s) is to help people become aware of mediation and how it could support them going through separation and divorce. Family mediation can help couples reach a resolution relating to children; such disputes are usually best resolved though discussion and agreement, where that can be managed safely and appropriately.
MIAM’s was introduced by the Ministry of Justice in April 2011 to help the public access information and advice about the advantages of mediation at an earlier stage of their dispute (pre-action). So those wishing to make an application to the court, whether publicly funded or otherwise, will now have to first consider, as appropriate, alternative means of resolving their disputes.
All potential applicants for a court order in relevant family proceedings will be expected, before making their application, to have followed the steps set out in the Protocol. This pre-action protocol requires potential applicants, except in certain specified circumstances, to consider with a mediator whether the dispute may be capable of being resolved through mediation.
The courts will expect all applicants to have complied with the Protocols before commencing proceedings and (except where exceptional circumstances apply) will expect any respondent to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, if invited to do so.
If court proceedings are taken, the court will wish to know at the first hearing whether mediation has been considered by the parties. In considering the conduct of any relevant family proceedings, the court will take into account any failure to comply with the Protocol and may refer the parties to a meeting with a mediator before the proceedings continue further.