Welcome to our MIAMs preparation page.
Before you come to your MIAM please:
- Read the answers to commonly asked questions below
- Please complete the client form and pre-mediation questionnaire and email these to the mediator, before your MIAM.
- If you think you might be eligible for legal aid please read the legal aid guide, use the online legal aid calculator and checklist of financial evidence to bring with you to the meeting.
What is a mediation information and assessment meeting?
A MIAM is a confidential meeting of about 45 mins to 1 hour in duration, between you and a mediator, to find out more about how mediation might help you and your former partner work together in mediation to reach your own outcomes rather than leaving this to solicitors and the court.
The Government wishes to encourage families, who turn to the law for help, to first find out whether mediation is suitable.
In all but exceptional circumstances, the law now requires people to attend a MIAM, with an accredited expert mediator, BEFORE they are entitled to make a court application.
This meeting will be your opportunity to find out how mediation works, and to ask questions, from a mediation expert, and begin to prepare for mediation, if you decide that it is for you.
If you decide, at the end of the MIAM, that you are not willing to mediate or the mediator assesses that mediation is not suitable, the mediator will provide you and/or your solicitor with a completed MIAM certificate. For your information only, you will find a MIAM certificate template in the useful documents section of this page.
Do I need to bring anything with me or send you anything before the MIAM?
Please complete the client record form and preparation questionnaire which you will find on the right-hand side of this webpage.
Either print these off, complete them and send them to the mediator or, preferably, please download them, complete them and email them to the mediator, since we try to reduce the paper we use, as much as possible.
This will better prepare you and the mediator for the meeting.
Before this meeting you may also want to use the online legal aid calculator to check whether you are likely to be eligible for legal aid for this meeting and mediation and perhaps ask the mediator to give you an indication over the phone, if possible.
If you think that you may be eligible for legal aid please bring the documents referred to in the legal aid document checklist. If you do not, the mediator will not be able to assess you for legal aid and you will have to pay for the meeting, at the end of the meeting.
What happens at the meeting?
The mediator will explain what happens in a mediation session, how it all works and, will answer your questions.
It is the mediator’s duty to form a view whether Mediation is suitable for you and your circumstances. It will also be for you to decide whether you wish to proceed with mediation.
The key aim will be for you to feel sufficiently well informed and confident before making the very important decision about whether or not to try mediation.
Essentially, the mediator will explore with each of you separately and confidentially whether it is likely to be possible, and how to best prepare you both, to work together in mediation (either in the same room or separate rooms) to resolve the issues you both raise.
The mediator will complete a legal aid eligibility form with you to find out whether you are entitled to free mediation (Legal Aid) to cover this meeting and future mediation sessions, which would also give you a few free hours with your solicitor if they hold a legal aid contract with the Government, to support you, if mediation proceeds.
To enable the mediator to complete the legal aid form you MUST bring with you, to the MIAM, all the financial evidence set out in the legal aid document checklist, relevant to your employment status, which you will find on the right hand side of this page. If you do not do so we cannot assess you for free mediation and will have to charge you for the MIAM. If you do not qualify for Legal Aid for family mediation, the Mediator will explain to you on the phone before your meeting, how much the MIAM will cost and will take a card payment for this, at the end of the MIAM.
Do I have to come on my own?
The pre-mediation MIAM will be for you to attend on your own.
This meeting offers you the opportunity to discuss with the mediator your own views about taking part in Mediation with your former partner and to explain matters of importance and concern to you.
If you wish to bring a friend or member of your family with you for support, please discuss this with the mediator first. This can sometimes be a good idea if it enables you to feel more relaxed and receptive in the meeting.
What happens if I decide that I do not want to go to mediation?
We will not place any pressure on you to choose mediation if you decide that it is not suitable for you.
All we expect of anyone is to be honest and open with us about their views and reasons for their decisions.
Equally, we do not want our clients to agree to mediation just because it might make them look bad if they do not agree, before going to court. Mediation only works when everyone is committed to giving mediation their ‘best effort’
At the end of or after the MIAM, if you and / or the mediator decide that you are not willing to proceed to mediation at the moment, and if you subsequently decide that you wish to make a court application, the mediator will complete and sign their page of your court application form. We call this your MIAM certificate.
Have a look at an example MIAM certificate in the Useful Documents section of this page.
What happens if one of us wants to go to mediation but the other does not?
Mediation will only work if both of you are committed to try and resolve your differences in this way.
If one person is unwilling to proceed with mediation, we will respect that choice but always keep the door open to the possibility of mediation taking place, at a later date, if you both subsequently come to the view that you would like to try the Mediation option.
For example, it is not unusual for us to see clients back once they have experienced the court option and discovered how long, costly and stressful this can be.
How much does it all cost?
If you are eligible for legal aid, the whole process will be free of charge, and your solicitor’s charges (if they have a contract with the legal aid agency), up to a limited amount, for advising you alongside the mediation process, will be covered by the Legal Aid Agency, thus resulting in substantial savings.
If your former partner is eligible for legal aid for mediation but you are not, the MIAMs and first mediation session will still be free of charge for you, saving you hundreds of pounds.
If matters proceed through the courts, the cost of a child dispute can be typically between £3,000 to £6,000 per person.
Cases involving the resolution of financial matters can typically cost £5,000 to £10,000 per person and often rise to £10-15,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the case and where you are in the country. For example, London solicitors often estimate over £100,000 for court proceedings.
In stark contrast, the cost of a mediation ranges from an average £500 to £1,500 plus vat per person, depending on the number of sessions required, which is fully paid by the legal aid agency for any person who is eligible to free Mediation.
Normally, if a successful outcome is reached during mediation there will be additional legal costs to pay to your solicitor, of between £500 and £1,000 per person, to formalise any agreement and have it made binding by the Judge, but again these are not charged to a person who qualifies for mediation Legal Aid, if their solicitor has a legal aid contract.
We are helping hundreds of separating couples around the country, at a fraction of the cost of court proceedings, resolve their own conflict and reach their own agreements, using the combination of one of our skilled family mediators, together with our videos and guide resources on our website.
How long does it all take?
When you choose to resolve your differences through mediation, you retain control of the time scale of your meetings.
Attending Mediation is often a significantly quicker and more time efficient way of reaching agreement.
Typically, you can agree your child arrangements in one or two sessions of 1.5 – 2 hours of mediation. You might agree a plan in the first mediation session and return to your mediation second session a few months later, to review and adjust it.
Financial mediation timeframes often mirror the 3 months or so it takes to obtain Decree Nisi in divorce proceedings, to give you both time to collect all the necessary financial information in the correct format, explore options and reach a robust settlement.
Please have a look at our video series – How to reach your own financial agreement- 5 stages
Co-parent mediations can take anything from 1 mediation session to 3 or 4 sessions depending on your circumstances although 2 or perhaps 3 are more common.
Do we need to use other family professionals?
The chances are that you may need some legal advice and support at various points during the mediation process, if for no other reason than to give you the confidence to reach your own decisions in mediation.
We will do our best to ensure that any legal advice and support you both receive is productive and constructive so that it does not result in undermining what you are trying to achieve in mediation.
In privately funded cases, if it becomes necessary to use other professionals such as the financial adviser/planner to help with the pensions, we will work closely with these professionals and you to ensure that they only do work that is strictly necessary in a very focussed, transparent and cost-effective way.
The same applies if the services of an accountant or property valuer becomes necessary.
Is the mediated outcome binding?
In mediation you will discuss a range of ideas to enable you to carefully explore the options alongside each other, without reaching a legally binding agreement.
For example, it is important that you both feel safe in the knowledge that any financial options you explore in mediation cannot be ‘used against you’ in court, if mediation breaks down. This is one main reason why discussion about your financial options and your financial proposals must remain confidential until you are both ready for these proposals to be made into a final binding order by the Judge.
Only the Judge can make your mediated proposals binding in the form of a binding consent order. You cannot bind yourselves and your solicitors cannot bind you both.
If you settle on mediated proposals which appear to be fair to both of you and any children, we will help by putting these proposal in the form of a summary, for you to discuss with your solicitors, before they help you decide whether to ask the Judge to make such proposals legally binding
We will also summarise the financial information you have both provided to help you to obtain advice from your solicitor about the options you are exploring in mediation.
We hope that with the assistance of our trained, impartial and experienced mediators (many of whom are also lawyers), the whole process will be significantly less stressful than court proceedings, much quicker and cost a great deal less.
“We will help you and your former partner reach your own agreements and the best solutions for you and your family”
- What happens at the meeting?
We hope that the answers, guides and documents on this page as well as the relevant videos in our video support section, provide you with everything you need, at this early stage of the mediation process.
If you have not done so already please get in touch to arrange your MIAM.