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How does the MIAMS process work?

View profile for Michael Cork
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Michael Cork is an accredited mediator who has worked with Family Law Group since 2014. In the second of his four blogs, he looks at the MIAM assessment process and whether it is right for you if you are looking into mediation. He hopes that in breaking down how our services around mediation and MIAMS can be used by our clients, Family Law Group can continue to help people through the UK.

What is a MIAM?

The assessment process (the MIAM) is usually a 40-60 minute private discussion between you and the mediator undertaken on zoom or the phone if Zoom is not possible. The mediator is tasked with providing you with an informative run through of what mediation is, its principles and how it works. You will learn that overall, it is much cheaper than going to court, especially with a lawyer, a lot speedier and more likely to diminish the emotional difficulties with your ex-partner than by adjudication from a magistrate.

Also, it must be emphasised that you both gain a full share in the decision-making for your children and not one that you will place in the hands of a Cafcass officer or a judge.

The alternative, of going to court, does not guarantee that the outcome will be one that you want even if you feel confident that you have ‘a good case’. The mediator will point out the benefits of trying mediation and what needs to be done if mediation is not your preferred route. You do not need to undertake a mediation if you do not want to. There is no compulsion as mediation does not usually work if one of you is unwilling to engage fully in the process.

What will you be asked?

If you chose to try mediation, then you will be asked about your personal circumstances regarding the dispute, a little background history, especially around your communications with each other, and what you say is the most important to you. You will be asked for your objectives or goals for the mediation with your ex-partner.

You will be asked about any experiences of domestic abuse in your relationship and in your post-separation times. Your children’s experience of this, if it occurred, will also be considered. You will also be asked whether you feel able to enter into mediation if you have experienced domestic abuse. On listening to your experiences, the mediator may decide that the mediation cannot take place or that it is not suitable, and he/she will refer you to the court. If it is learned during the session that there are on-going child protection concerns or serious criminal activities then this cannot remain confidential and the mediator may need to inform the appropriate authorities.

Sometimes people in mediation may want to find a solution with their ex-partner and yet feel unable to meet them or see them on screen (if it is a Zoom) or face to face (if it is in an office) whenever possible. In these circumstances, you may prefer to choose a form of mediation called ‘shuttle mediation’.

This is where you will speak with the mediator in turn during the same session. You will not see the other person or hear them, and they will not see you. The mediator will shuttle between the two parents and will verbalise what each one of you has said in answer to the various questions put to you. In this format, the mediator will not wish to excuse or defend what has been said, but faithfully reproduce the words of the other. If, after a while, you think it would be good to speak to the other parent, then that would be fine with the other’s consent.

What happens at the end?

At the end of each mediation, you will receive a short written summary of the discussions that have taken place. Any agreements between you will also be recorded. If you have both stated that you are happy with an outcome then this can be written down as an agreement, and as a Parenting Plan when appropriate, and sent out to you both. In most circumstances, this can be shared with your solicitor or the court, although the document remains legally privileged. This means that what is said in the mediation meeting cannot be used in court as evidence.

Michael’s third blog will examine the mediator’s role and responsibilities, as well as when mediation may not be a suitable option. Our mediation team can be contacted on 0800 1777121 or mediation@familylawgroup.co.uk

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