What is MIAM?
MIAM stands for Mediation and Information Assessment Meetings. It is your first mediation meeting between you and your mediator to assess whether your dispute is suitable for mediation.
In this 1 to 1 meeting, the mediator will explain the mediation process to you, what your options are and find out from you what you hope to achieve from the process. The mediator will also talk through any concerns you may have about the process or with your ex-partner that you want to share with them in that meeting. The mediator will also explain to you the benefits of mediation and discuss any of the other dispute resolution options to you.
What happens in a MIAM?
During this first meeting the mediator will assess, from your answers and the discussion, whether mediation is appropriate for you and your family. There are factors which will determine whether it is the correct forum for you; whether both participants will be free and able to use the forum in a safe way and that there will be a level playing field.
The mediator will also discuss with you, time frames and how many sessions you and your ex-partner may need, the cost and what information will be needed at each session.
The mediator will also be able to signpost you in respect of other potential services that will provide help and support for your specific circumstances and that can give you more options in terms of working out how to reach a resolution.
Normally, most mediators will conduct an individual MIAM with each participant separately but occasionally it is appropriate to attend the MIAM together. This will be up to the mediator. The mediator will always spend time alone with each person to make sure they have made their own decision to come along to the session and that there are no risks of harm or any safeguarding concerns in respect of the participants or their family.
Do I have to attend a MIAM?
Finally, if you want to take your case to court, more often than not you will need a mediator to sign the MIAM form. This is a legal requirement (there are some exceptions which are set out on the court forms). The other participant, (the prospective respondent to any application) should still be invited to attend a MIAM by the mediator, they will not be expected to attend the same meeting as you but separately.
What is the cost of a MIAM?
The cost will vary, sometimes the mediator may not charge you for that first meeting. Often, the first meeting is much shorter than the joint sessions, ranging from 10 – 30 minutes and will be charged differently to the joint sessions; it is normally a fixed fee and will be same price for both participants.
What happens next?
Once both parties have attended the MIAM or first meeting, and the mediator has assessed you for being suitable for mediation, the mediator will give you a document called “Agreement to mediate”, this sets out the terms and conditions of the mediation process that you are signing up to. You and your ex-partner will then be ready to commence the first joint session.
Alternatively, if the mediator assesses your circumstances as being unsuitable for mediation, they will sign the relevant court form which confirms that you have considered mediation and you are then in a position to make your court application if appropriate.