Since 2014, it has been a legal requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) prior to filing a family court application. This will allow you to seek mediation in the initial occurrence. Your Family Mediator Sandhurst will offer you with information about mediation at your MIAM so that you may make an educated choice about whether or not mediation is suitable for you. They will also evaluate the eligibility of your case for mediation.
It is essential that you understand that mediation itself is not obligatory; only the MIAM is. This is because the law mandates that you at least consider family mediation before filing a lawsuit. Mediation is a voluntary procedure, which means that you are not required to utilise it. A court may question you why you did not use mediation if you file a lawsuit, and they may refer you back to mediation to attempt to resolve your disagreement through mediation.
You must attend an MIAM if you are involved in one of the following family conflicts:
The parties should attempt mediation for a variety of reasons. The Ministry of Justice and the Courts promote mediation as a more amicable means of settling family-related conflicts. The primary advantages are that it is a substantially cheaper and quicker method of addressing concerns. You will not be obliged to pay court or attorney expenses. Mediation is also far less stressful and can enable an amicable divorce.
Due to these benefits and the motivation to consider mediation, you are often required to attend an MIAM to evaluate when mediation is appropriate for your case. There are, however, situations in which mediation is just inappropriate. This is often determined by the family mediator at your MIAM, however there are 15 exclusions that exclude you from attending. This is a list of them.
If you or your children have experienced domestic violence, you will not be required to attend an MIAM. To accomplish this, you must check the appropriate exemption box on your court application and present proof of domestic violence. You can provide a number of different types of evidence, including evidence of criminal arrest or charge for a domestic abuse offence, a letter from your general practitioner documenting support for domestic abuse, or a statement from a domestic abuse organisation from which you have received support.
2.One of the participants resides overseas.
This is because physically attending an MIAM is tough. However, this exception is becoming less prevalent because mediation is usually conducted online, therefore attendance is no longer required. If necessary, Family Mediator Sandhurst provides a comprehensive virtual service.
3.You are unaware of the respondent's residence.
You are not required to attend an MIAM if, after taking measures to identify the opposing party, you are still unable to determine their residence. This is due to the fact that it would be impossible to invite them to family mediation. If you have access to these technologies, we can send invites to you through email or text message. However, if you have no contact information, you are excluded from the MIAM.
4.You have previously attended an MIAM.
If you have already attended an MIAM in the past four months, you will not be required to go again. You must be able to present your mediation certificate, which was presented to you at the previous MIAM by your mediator. The certificate is valid for only four months.
5.You are currently involved in a court case
If you already have a dispute-related matter pending in court, you will not be required to attend another MIAM. This only applies to ongoing cases; once the case is closed, you must attend a different MIAM.
6.Your situation is urgent
If the Court deems your matter urgent, you will not be required to attend an MIAM. It is crucial to note that cases are only considered urgent under really dire conditions. We have already written on urgency [here], which can provide you with further information, but often, it is when a kid is experiencing or is at danger of experiencing serious damage. If you believe that your matter is urgent, you are advised to seek legal counsel.
7.You have safety concerns for your child
Similar to the preceding clause, this clause applies only in specific, grave situations. There is no necessity to attend an MIAM if the kid in question is associated with social services for safety reasons or is subject to a child protection plan.
8.Your case has been overlooked
This again refers to safety and protection. A hearing without prior notice may be held where it is required to preserve the safety of the parties involved. The Court determines whether or not a matter is without notice. Obtain legal counsel if you believe this applies to you.
9.You are unable to attend an MIAM owing to a handicap
If your disability prevents you from accessing an MIAM, you will not be required to try an MIAM. Before picking this exception, you should exhaust all other possibilities. You must try all mediators within 15 miles of your residence and provide proof to the court that none of them are acceptable. Additionally, you should consider attending an online MIAM.
10.One of the contestants is serving a prison term or is subject to bail conditions.
If any of the parties to mediation are incarcerated, mediation cannot proceed, and you will not be required to attend an MIAM. Similarly, if certain bail restrictions are in place that prevent mediation from proceeding, you may claim this exception.
11.One participant is younger than 18
If any of the parties are under the age of 18, mediation cannot typically proceed, thus you can claim this exemption and file a straight application to court.
12.There are no family mediators in your neighbourhood (15 miles)
This exception is self-explanatory, however it is crucial to highlight that due to the increasing use of online mediation, it may be more difficult to show in court.
13.There is no mediation service available in your region.
If you have sought to schedule an MIAM with at least three providers within a 15-mile radius of your residence and they have all informed you that they are full for the next three weeks, you are eligible for this exemption. The emergence of internet mediation makes it even less probable that you would encounter this circumstance.
14.You are requesting a consent order
If you have previously achieved an agreement outside of court and are seeking for a consent order (either a financial consent order or a child arrangement order), you will not be required to participate in mediation since you have already reached a settlement.
15.Either you or the participant are or will soon be insolvent (in financial applications only)
Because bankruptcy adds complication to disagreements about financial arrangements (mostly because a person in bankruptcy is unable to govern their finances), mediation is inappropriate and the subject must be resolved by the courts. It is recommended that you obtain legal counsel in this situation.
Currently, the aforementioned are the exemptions from the necessity to attend an MIAM prior to filing a court application for family problems. In the majority of circumstances, these exemptions will not apply, and you will be required to engage in mediation.
It is essential to recognise that these exclusions also apply to the responder. If you are concerned that you have received an invitation to mediate and do not wish to go, you may find further information on our blog.
Occasionally, your situation may not be as straightforward as these exemptions. If you find yourself in this circumstance, it may be beneficial to attend an MIAM with a mediator to address it, since our mediators are able to provide you a certificate allowing you to apply to court on the same day if you do not choose to continue with mediation.