Tuesday 22nd April sees the Children and Families Act 2014 come into force. This new piece of legislation introduces a number of significant changes into family law, including making a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) compulsory for anyone applying to the Court regarding their children or financial issues, following a separation.
Previously, attendance at a MIAM has only ever been recommended and the take up amongst separating couples has been relatively low. However, the Courts are overwhelmed with applications, many of which could benefit from those involved considering mediation. The Government hope these changes will see more couples choosing mediation as a way to resolve their differences, with fewer automatically considering Court proceedings as the only option in the face of a dispute.
Helen Cankett, Associate Solicitor and Family Mediator at BPE Solicitors commented “Mediation provides a safe, confidential and constructive way to address the important issues that arise on separation. As a mediator, I am impartial and can give the couple a wealth of legal information and practical support to help them reach long-lasting agreements for them and their children. Whilst the new law only obliges couples to find out about mediation as a process, I hope it encourages more to choose to use the process to talk through their differences and find workable, practical solutions for the future, particularly where there are children to consider.”
There are a few exceptions to this rule (such as if there is domestic abuse) and the Government has therefore sent a clear message that separating couples must consider mediation as an alternative to an uncertain and expensive courtroom battle.
As a trained Family Mediator, recognised by the Family Mediation Council in All-Issues Mediation, Helen will be able to offer MIAMs to separating couples. If you would like to find out more about mediation and MIAMs, please contact Helen on 01242 248256 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.