If you are separating from your partner it is likely that one of you will apply to court for a legal separation or divorce. You will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you can do this. A MIAM is a meeting with an authorised family mediator where you can find out more about mediation and other options to resolve your dispute. You will receive unbiased information about your case and the benefits of mediation.
You can attend your MIAM alone or with your partner, most couples decide to have separate meetings as this can make the process more streamlined and easier to manage. However, even if you attend a MIAM with your partner the mediator will still usually speak to each of you separately at some point. This is so that they can assess whether there is a risk of harm or violence and to ensure your safety.
During the MIAM the mediator will take information about your case, for example your contact details, the issues you are having and how you would like them to be resolved. The mediator will also explain how mediation works and what the process entails. They will then tell you if they feel that your case is suitable for mediation or another form of dispute resolution. In some cases, such as serious domestic abuse or admissions of criminal activity it may be that a mediator feels that mediation is not appropriate and will inform you if this is the case.
For couples who are going through a divorce or separation it is important to be aware that there are many different ways to settle matters and there are many alternatives to the court process. A MIAM is a great way to explore these alternatives and the mediator will discuss your options with you including if you are eligible for legal aid.
If you and your partner agree to try mediation the mediator will then make a first mediation appointment which you will both attend. If you decide that mediation is not suitable for your case the mediator will be able to sign a court form which you will need to submit when applying at court to show that you have considered mediation.
If you and your partner do not agree to try mediation the mediator will give you their contact details and explain what options you have in terms of contacting your ex-partner to invite them to attend their own MIAM or for you to do so independently. They will also talk to you about disclosure and what paperwork is required if your case involves finances (including the breakdown of bank accounts, assets, property and pensions). This information will help you decide whether it is appropriate for you to seek independent financial advice or legal assistance. The MIAM will also include information about the cost of these services. The court will only allow you to proceed to a court hearing without attending a MIAM if there are very specific reasons and these must be explained in full to the judge when applying at court. miam mediation