MIAMs (Compulsory Mediation ?)

MIAMs (Compulsory Mediation ?)

For many years now it had been the case that those persons who wished to apply for public funding (Legal Aid) in order to take their case to Court had (with certain exceptions) to first attempt mediation.

The Government is eager to cut costs in all areas following on from the recession, and the Court service is no exception. Accordingly a new procedure was introduced…

In April 2014 the Government extended the position, so that from 22nd April 2014, any person, no matter how their case is to be funded, must first attend a M.I.A.M (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) before they issue Court proceedings in a family law case. Once again there are certain exceptions, but most of the Application Forms now have a specific question about whether the person issuing the application has attended a M.I.A.M.

It is not compulsory mediation, but the attendance at a mediation information meeting is compulsory. The government state that they have made the changes to ensure that separating couples always consider mediation as an alternative to a courtroom battle.

Simply, a M.I.A.M. is an appointment with a mediator where the mediator explains to you how mediation, and collaborative practice work. You are also assessed as to your suitability for both processes, so if you have been subject to Domestic Violence for instance, then you will, or should, be ruled out.

You do not have to attend mediation, or enter into the collaborative process following on from such a meeting.

If you choose not to avail yourself of these services then you will need to obtain a Form FM1 (either a separate form incorporated in to the relevant court application form, such as C100 or Form A).

An FM1 is only valid for 4 months, so if you attend a M.I.A.M. but then do nothing for more than 4 months, you will need to attend another M.I.A.M.

Mediation service providers charge for a M.I.A.M, but if either party qualifies for legal aid to mediate, then the M.I.A.M is free of charge.