Before making an application to court relating to child or financial issues, there is a legal requirement that you attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (known as a MIAM). The idea is that 'considering mediation' as an option is a good thing. The MIAM must be with a family mediator accredited by the Family Mediation Council, which we are. At the MIAM you and the mediator will discuss your situation and the issues arising. Part of the meeting is used to assess whether mediation might be a suitable forum in which to help move matters forwards.
If at the end of the meeting you do not wish to take the mediation process further, the mediator will, upon request, supply you with a form to prove that you have attended the MIAM. This is often referred to as the MIAM Certificate.
There is currently no legal obligation for people to actually mediate, but upon receiving your court application and at a first hearing the court will consider whether mediation might be a helpful step to take and may encourage you to do so. Presently, it is only the person making the application to court (usually known as the 'applicant') who has to attend a MIAM.
Yes. On average, family mediation is four to five times less expensive than using solicitors to work out a settlement. Where mediation becomes so valuable is in its ability to help people speak directly to one another. Often the clear and direct approach in mediation is more effective than weeks of lengthy communication between solicitors. The latter may create added tension and unnecessary confusion for clients and almost certainly adds to the cost of their separation.
We do encourage participants in mediation to obtain independent legal advice during the mediation process as this is not something the mediator can give. You can then consider the advice as a helpful addition to the mediation process and something that will assist you in reaching a settlement.
The main issues which people like to discuss in mediation concerning their children are:
The above is not an exhaustive list and each topic is rich for discussion. At Rathbone Family Mediation, our mediators are trained in speaking with children (Child Inclusive Mediation) and have many hundreds of hours' experience in delivering the CAFCASS-run Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP).
Mediation outcomes are documented, although with regards to child arrangements are not legally binding or 'set in stone'. We are also able to provide a more detailed account of child proposals by way of a Parenting Plan.
Most people wishing to discuss money and property do so in the context of divorce proceedings or with a view to separating.
You will hear the term 'financial disclosure' used by the mediator and this part of the mediation process is really important to get right. Before any decisions can be made about how you choose to separate your finances, you both need to know what there is. This includes exchanging supporting documents.
You will be asked to prepare details relating to your assets (what you own including any items in joint names), liabilities (debts), income details and some figures for predicted future income and outgoings.
Using this information, you will be helped to negotiate on such matters as:
Most people in mediation spend time discussing:
As most people wish for their proposals to be made either legally binding via a Financial Consent Order or some form of Separation Agreement, you can see how important it is to get this part of mediation right.
Your discussions in mediation are confidential unless you jointly agree that information should be disclosed or unless the mediator is worried that someone will come to harm.
If an allegation is made that someone (particularly a child) is at risk of harm, we have a duty to contact the appropriate authorities. We may also be required to disclose information with regard to the commission of any relevant, previously undisclosed, criminal offence.
The mediation sessions are also legally privileged, which means that what you say during mediation cannot later be used in Court as evidence.
We will ask each of you to agree that all discussions during mediation take place only in an attempt to reach a settlement and are on the basis that they are both confidential and will not be referred to in evidence in any court proceedings or sworn statement about the same issue. But facts disclosed during mediation are regarded as open.
Any facts provided by either of you during mediation about financial matters will need to be verified with supporting documents. Although these will be strictly confidential, they may be used subsequently in court. Normally these are documented by the mediator in an Open Financial Statement. If an agreement is not reached, they can be used by a solicitor as a basis for further discussions.
If your children are seen in mediation their session is also private and confidential unless the mediator is worried that someone will come to harm. Normal feedback received from your children to the mediator will only be given to you in accordance with their wishes.
This is a commonly asked question which is tricky to answer with any certainty. It depends on what you need to sort out and how well you and the other person are able to work together. In your MIAM, the mediator will give you an indication of likely session numbers. Generally speaking, we would say the following:
Each joint meeting will last for up to 1.5 hours.
We offer parents the opportunity for their children to be involved (known as Child-Inclusive Mediation or CIM). For more information please speak to your mediator. If you wish the mediator to see your children and the children agree, that meeting will take up to an hour and the mediator will need a commitment from you both to receive your children’s feedback.
For more information please talk to your mediator.
The mediator has a number of different roles to play during a mediation session. These include:
The law with regards to married people and those cohabitating is different.
It is important to note that the mediator has no power to impose a settlement. Full responsibility for all decisions remains with the participants at all times.
Additionally, whilst the mediator is an expert and may also be solicitor, they cannot give advice and must remain impartial at all times. You are encouraged to seek independent legal advice at some point during the mediation process, particularly if discussing financial decisions and certainly prior to finalising any agreed proposals.
Family Mediation can help you work out a number of different issues. These include:
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