Yes, attending mediation (a MIAM, or Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) is a required step before going to court in most cases.
For certain cases, family mediation can be an incredibly successful alternative to attending court and can result in fully dealing with family matters without the need for further legal involvement.
However, for cases where resolution is not possible through mediation, further steps should be taken to help ensure that appropriate arrangements are made with the help from a judge or magistrate.
Generally, attending an initial MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) is a legal requirement in most cases, to ensure that all involved parties have considered mediatory services before turning to court.
While parties are encouraged to attend mediation meetings together, it is also possible to meet separately, as long as the same authorised family mediator is present. This rule, however, has certain exemptions which can allow a party to make an application for court under particular circumstances.
It is also possible to arrange a mediation meeting via video call or an online meeting platform. This is subject to all parties being in agreement and having access to a device that allows them to participate, such as a laptop or tablet.
If your situation falls under any of the below categories, you may be exempt from the MIAM requirement This includes:
- If there are cases of domestic violence (such as the prospective party arrested for a relevant domestic violence offence or conviction for a domestic violence offence).
- Child protection concerns.
- Urgency (such as the risk to life, harm to the child or children in question or a significant risk of a miscarriage of justice).
- Bankruptcy (If the prospective applicant has filed a bankruptcy order or a petition by a creditor of the applicant for a bankruptcy order.)
For further guidance and detail about each MIAM exception, please take a look at the procedure rules on the justice.gov.uk site.
If you are considering exempting from a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, please be aware that you will be required to provide sufficient evidence to determine whether the exemption was claimed rightly.
If the court determines that the provided evidence is insufficient or the MIAM exemption was not validly claimed, you and any additional parties may be directed to attend a MIAM before proceedings.
Whitehead Monckton’s family mediation solicitors can offer expert advice on a variety of matters relating to MIAMs, mediation and family law. Contact our teams based in Maidstone, Tenterden, Canterburyand Canary Wharfor call us today on 01622 698000.