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Legal Update

Recent changes to changes to how Mediation Information Meetings should be undertaken

Court isn’t always the best place to air your differences when a relationship breaks down. It is often expensive and court proceedings can take a long time to be resolved. In fact, in most cases, the Court expect anyone wishing to make an application about the arrangements for their children or regarding their finances, to have attended an initial meeting – a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) - with a Family Mediator to see if the mediation process could help resolve matters.

From the 1st October 2022, new standards in how MIAM are to be undertaken will be introduced. A MIAM is the initial meeting which anyone who is considering Family Mediation must attend so that the suitability of mediation for their particular situation can be carefully assessed.

A MIAM is also required if someone believes they may need to go to Court to resolve financial or children matters as part of their divorce or separation. It enables them to find out more about the process to see if mediation may actually be a better way of achieving a resolution.

The new standards are designed to ensure these important meetings are delivered consistently by professional mediators, to protect the public, uphold the principles of mediation and to establish a reliable assessment of the suitability of mediation in each particular case.

The new standards state that at a MIAM, a mediator must:-

  1. Provide individuals with sufficient information about mediation and other dispute resolution tools to enable them to make informed choices about how to resolve the issues they raise;
  2. Obtain information from participants about their circumstances and issues arising from their separation;
  3. Assess the safety and suitability of mediation for the participants;
  4. Discuss and, where possible, identify with participants their next steps, including the value of seeking legal advice.

In reality, skilled and experienced mediators already deliver MIAMs in a way which achieve these four important outcomes, but the introduction of the new standards, which are accompanied by guidance for mediators themselves, are to be welcomed.

Public confidence in Family Mediation as a credible, safe and supportive process to help separating couples is extremely important and the new standards will ensure that mediation remains a process which can be relied upon to help many couples separate in a dignified way.

Combining these changes with the new no fault divorce law that came in earlier this year, steps are being taken to make the divorce and separation process less contentious and more collaborative.

At BPE we can provide a safe, confidential and supportive environment for you and your partner to discuss, and agree, future arrangements regarding your children, finances and property, allowing you both to look forward to the future. If you would like to know more about family mediation or any other aspect of family law, please contact Helen Cankett, Family Mediator and Team Leader at BPE Solicitors on 01242 248256 or email helen.cankett@bpe.co.uk

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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