If you are experiencing problems with your children following separation or divorce, or need to make a family court application for another reason, then you will be required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). But is attendance at a MIAM compulsory? And what happens if you don’t attend one? Here, we take a look.
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What is a MIAM?
A MIAM involves each party to the proposed proceedings meeting a mediator individually. The mediator will explain exactly what is involved and decide whether your case is suitable for mediation.
Will I be forced to attend a MIAM?
Mediation is purely voluntary, and there is no question that someone would be forced to attend, although it is compulsory to consider attending a MIAM. If you go to court before attending a MIAM, and the court decides the case is suited to mediation, it can postpone the matter until you at least attempt to resolve it via a meeting.
Will it look bad if I don’t attend mediation?
As stated above, mediation is a voluntary process, and no one is forced to attend against their will. However, if either party refuses, it is likely the court will question such refusal. This is because, in family cases, the court has an expectation that you and your ex should explore the option of mediation before applying to court. The decision not to attend a MIAM before making an application may therefore be held against you unless there you a reasonable reason for not doing so that falls into one of the 15 exemptions detailed below.
Refusing to attend a MIAM may also have costs implications, and this alone should be a sufficient reason to properly consider the option rather than a dismissal out of hand. It is important to consider the positives mediation can bring: avoiding lengthy court cases, costs, and risks of a contested hearing. And of particular importance in family matters, it can also be a means of preserving a relationship, which can only be of benefit for those who have children.
Although attending a MIAM is required in most cases, there are certain circumstances where you may be exempt from attending a MIAM before going to court.
What are the MIAM certificate exemptions?
There are currently 15 exemptions that the court will accept for not attending a MIAM and these are listed on the relevant court form. The accepted certificate exemptions include:
Victims of domestic abuse are excused from having to attend mediation. Evidence of the abuse suffered should be provided to the court alongside the application. The court will accept details of arrest for a domestic violence offence or any related criminal proceedings. Medical evidence from your GP, domestic abuse organisation or other professional body is also accepted.
Either/both parties live overseas
If either party lives abroad, they are not required to attend a MIAM, as physical attendance would be problematic. That said, with the increased use of online video conferencing platforms, this may change at some point in the future.
You don’t know the location of the other party
If you have taken reasonable steps to locate the other party but don’t know their current whereabouts, it will not be possible to invite them to mediation.
Previous attendance at a MIAM
If you have attended a MIAM during the previous 4 months, then you do not have to attend another one within that time period.
There is a linked court case already being heard
If there is an ongoing court case and you are applying for a new or supplementary application, you are not required to attend a new MIAM.
You require an urgent meeting
Such circumstances would usually involve a risk of life or serious harm to a child. It can also be used if a child is about to be unlawfully removed from the country.
Child protection concerns
If the child is subject to a child protection plan or the local authority is making enquiries into the safety of the child, you do not need to attend a MIAM.
If the hearing is made without notice
This typically surrounds the safety of the people involved in the application, such as a child or someone at risk of domestic abuse.
You have a disability that cannot be accommodated
If your disability means that you are unable to attend a meeting within 15 miles of your home, then, providing you have tried at least 3 mediation providers, you do not have to attend a MIAM. It should be noted that the court will require evidence of the attempts.
You or the other party are in prison or have bail conditions
If either party is in prison, then a MIAM cannot take place. Although permission can be sought to mediate whilst there are bail conditions, it is also a reason a MIAM exemption would apply.
You or the respondent is a child
Because mediation can only take place between adults, if either party is under the age of 18, they are not required to attend a MIAM.
There is no mediator near you
If you can show there are no family mediators within 15 miles of your home, then you do not have to attend a MIAM.
Lack of mediators available for a MIAM
If you have tried all the mediators within 15 miles of your home and they have all informed you they cannot hold a MIAM within 15 working days, then you do not have to wait and can make your application without the MIAM certificate.
You are submitting a consent order
If you have made an agreement with your ex and wish to apply to the court to make it legally binding, you are not required to attend a MIAM, as the agreement has already been reached.
You are applying for a financial order and either of you is about to be made bankrupt
Bankruptcy significantly complicates the issues because the person going bankrupt will not be in direct control or ownership of their financial assets. In such cases, mediation would be unsuitable and therefore exempts MIAM attendance.
The information on this website is to be considered a guide and is therefore not legal advice. You use this information with the understanding that Wiselaw does not accept liability for any direct or indirect losses as a result of anyone relying on or acting upon the information on this website. Whilst we endeavour to provide accurate information, Wiselaw does not accept liability for any errors or omissions on this website.