It is compulsory to consider Family Mediation as an option to resolve issues in divorce.
At a MIAM, an accredited family mediator will explain what mediation involves and will decide if your case is suitable for mediation.
Mediation is voluntary but if you go to court and the judge considers that you would be better discussing matters at a mediation meeting, the court can adjourn your case whilst you go back and attempt to resolve the issues through mediation.
When is a MIAM required?
A MIAM is required when you want to submit a C100 Form to the court. This is the application for a child arrangement order or to resolve a dispute about their upbringing. A MIAM may also be required when you want to submit a Form A to resolve financial issues on your divorce or separation.
What are the advantages of family mediation:
- It is a much quicker way to reach agreement than going to court;
- It is considerably cheaper than negotiating through a solicitor or being represented at court; and
- It is thought to be less stressful and a far more amicable way to resolve disputes.
Family mediation is not suitable in all cases and there are currently 15 exemptions that the court will accept for you not attending a MIAM.
1: Domestic abuse
If you have been the victim of domestic abuse you do not have to attend family mediation, but you will need to provide evidence of the abuse to the court with your application. For example, you will need to show that the other party was arrested for a domestic violence offence or show details of any criminal proceedings and convictions. Otherwise you will need to provide written evidence from a medical practitioner, domestic abuse organisation, or other professional body.
2: If either of you live abroad
If you or your ex habitually live outside England or Wales, you do not need to attend a MIAM. However, with the advent of Online Mediation, this may be changing.
3: You don’t know where your ex lives
If you don’t know where your ex lives and have taken reasonable steps to try to find out.
4: You previously attended a MIAM
If you have already attended a MIAM within the previous 4 months, you do not need to attend a new one. The MIAM certificate needs to be dated within 4 months.
5: You have a linked case at court
If there is an ongoing case (not a closed one) at court and you are submitting a new or supplementary application.
6: You need an urgent hearing
Urgency will be decided by the court, but urgent circumstances would usually involve a risk to life or serious harm to the child. It can also be used if the child is about to be unlawfully removed from the country.
7: Child protection concerns
This would apply if you are submitting a C100 form and the child concerned is subject to a child protection plan, or if the local authority is making enquiries, for example if the child has been taken into police protection.
8: If the hearing is to be made without notice
This would apply when an applicant goes to the Family Court to seek help without having given any prior notice of the application to the other party. For example in cases of domestic abuse or violence.
9: You have a disability that cannot be accommodated
If you have a disability that means you cannot get to a family mediator within 15 miles of your home, then as long as you have tried them all, or at least three if there are several mediators, then you do not have to attend a MIAM meeting. The court will need evidence that you have tried though. You will also need to consider that you may be able to attend an Online MIAM and even have your MIAM by telephone in exceptional circumstances.
10: You or the other party are in prison or on bail
If you or the other party are in prison, then mediation will not be able to take place. Whilst you can seek permission to mediate whilst there are bail conditions or terms of your license not to contact the other party, it can also be a reason why a MIAM exemption would be allowed.
11: You or the other party is a child
Mediation can only take place between adults, so if you or the other party are under 18, then you do not have to attend a MIAM and can go straight to the court.
12: You do not have a mediator near you
This applies if you can show that there isn’t a family mediator within 15 miles of where you live. But you should consider Online Mediation or holding an Online MIAM in such circumstances.
13: Availability of a MIAM
If you have tried all of the mediators within 15 miles of where you live, or at least three if there are more than that and none can hold a MIAM within 15 working days, then you do not have to wait and can submit your C100 Form or Form A to court without the MIAM certificate.
14: You are submitting a consent order
If you are sending a Form A for a Financial Order or a C100 for a Child Arrangement Order and they are by consent, i.e. you have both made an agreement and wish to invite the court to make it legally binding, then you do not need to attend a MIAM.
15: You are filing a Form A for a financial order and either you or the respondent are or about to be made bankrupt
Bankruptcy adds a significantly more complicated factor to the financial arrangement as the person who is bankrupt is not in direct control or ownership of their financial assets. In such cases mediation would not be suitable.
Looking for more family law advice?
Go back to our family law advice hub, for advice and information on everything from divorce to child arrangement orders.
Do you have sufficient evidence too? If you’re not gathering evidence, now is the time to start.