What is a MIAM?
Since April 2014 it has been compulsory to at least consider Family Mediation by way of attending a MIAM meeting. A MIAM stands for Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting. An accredited family mediator will explain what mediation involves and will decide if your case is suitable for mediation.
Mediation is voluntary for either party but if you go to court and the judge considers that you would be better discussing matters at a mediation meeting, they can adjourn your case whilst you go back and attempt to resolve the issues through mediation.
When Do I Need a MIAM?
This is because the courts, Ministry of Justice and most legal professionals agree that a mediation meeting is the better way to resolve issues on your financial or parenting arrangements.
Advantages of Family Mediation:
- It is a much quicker method to reach agreement than by going to court
- It is considerably cheaper than negotiating through a solicitor or being represented at court
- It is less stressful and a far more amicable way to resolve disputes
But Family Mediation is not suitable in every situation and there are currently 15 exemptions that the court will accept for you not attending a MIAM. These are listed on the respective court forms. We will take you through each of these exemptions here.
The 15 MIAM Certificate Exemptions
1) Domestic abuse
If you have been the victim of domestic abuse you do not have to attend family mediation. But you do need to provide evidence of the abuse to the court with your application. You will need to show that the other party was arrested for a domestic violence offence or show details of any criminal proceedings. If you do not have this, then you will need to provide written evidence from a medical practitioner, domestic abuse organisation, or other professional body to show that domestic abuse has taken place.
2) Either of you live abroad
If you or the Respondent habitually live outside of England or Wales you do not need to attend a MIAM. This would make physical attendance at a MIAM difficult, so the court do not expect you to attend mediation. However, with the advent of Online Mediation, this may change in the near future.
3) You don’t know where the other party lives
If you don’t know where they live and have taken reasonable steps to find out, it will not be possible to invite them to mediation, so you do not need to attend a MIAM.
4) You previously attended a MIAM
If you have already attended a MIAM within the last 4 months, you do not need to attend a new one. The MIAM certificate needs to be dated within 4 months, so you would need to attend a new MIAM meeting if it is outside of this date. In such cases you may want to consider a fast-track Urgent MIAM.
5) You have a linked case already at court
If there is already an ongoing case at court and you are submitting a new or supplementary application, you do not need to attend a new MIAM appointment. You should provide details of the case to the court. But note that proceedings need to be ongoing and not closed – so previous court appearances that have concluded do not count, even if it is regarding the same individuals.
6) You need an urgent hearing
Urgency here will be decided by the court. Of course most matters involving children are urgent, especially to their parents, but these circumstances would usually involve a risk of life or serious harm to the child. It can also be used if the child is about to be unlawfully removed from the country. You should take legal advice if there is a seriously urgent matter involving your child.
7) Child Protection concerns
If you are submitting a C100 form and the child concerned is subject to a child protection plan, or the local authority are making enquiries into the safety of the child – for example if they have be taken into police protection, then you do not need to attend a MIAM prior to submission of the C100.
8) If the hearing is due to be made without notice
This again would usually revolve around the safety of the people involved. A court would normally make a decision if this applies under Section 5.1 of Practice Direction 18A:
9) You have a disability that cannot be accommodated
If you have a disability that means you are unable to 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. You will also need to consider the you can attend an Online MIAM and even have your MIAM by telephone in exceptional circumstances – such as during the Covid lockdowns.
10) You or the other party are in prison or have bail conditions
If you or the other party are in prison, then mediation will not be able to take place and you therefore do not have to attend a MIAM appointment. Whilst you can seek permission to mediate whist there are bail conditions or terms of your license not to contact the other party, this is also a reason why a MIAM exemption would be allowed.
11) You or the respondent 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
If you can show that there is not a family mediator within 15 miles of where you live, then you do not have to attend mediation. You should consider Online Mediation or holding an Online MIAM in such circumstances.
13) Availability for a MIAM Meeting
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 they have all informed you that they cannot hold a MIAM meeting within 15 working days (3 weeks) then you do not have to wait and can submit your C100 Form or Form A to court without the MIAM certificate. Most companies now can accommodate meetings within this timescale especially if they offer MIAMs or Family Mediation Online.
14) You are Submitting a Consent Order
If you are sending a Form A for a Financial Order or a C100 for a Child Arrangements 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 mediate as agreement has already been reached – and therefore you do not need to attend a MIAM.
15) You are filing Form A for a financial order and either you or the Respondent are or about to be 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, so you do not need a MIAM. You should take urgent legal advice if this is the situation on your divorce or separation.
Those are currently the 15 reasons why the court will allow you to ask for an exemption for a MIAM Certificate. As you can see, in most cases, you will need to attend a MIAM, even if mediation does not progress. If you have been invited to a MIAM and have refused to attend, the court will usually want you to explain why. Take a look at our blog “Will it look bad if I don’t go to mediation?”
If you genuinely have reasons why you want to skip mediation and go straight to court, or you know that the other party will definitely not want to attend mediation – or perhaps your situation is urgent but does not meet one of the criteria above, you can do an Online MIAM and usually get the MIAM certificate the same or next day.
To find out more, call us on 0330 999 0959, email us at email@example.com