Can I bypass Family Mediation and proceed directly to the Court?
The end of a relationship is always a difficult time for everyone involved, especially if there are children involved. It’s indeed understandable that there could be animosity after a separation or divorce, which can cause conflict when making plans for your children as well as finances. Although you may wish to proceed directly to Court, in most cases, you will need to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to evaluate if Family Mediation might be a viable alternative to the Court process. Family Law Partner as well as Mediator, explains why you might have to consider Family Mediation and what exemptions you might have.
Family Mediation is completely voluntary; even so, due to its success in assisting separating couples to find their own solutions to their problems, the requirement to attend a MIAM before filing a Court application was introduced in 2014. This was done to ensure that people took advantage of the opportunity, if appropriate, to settle their differences without incurring the cost and emotional stress of going to Court.
What are the exemptions for MIAM attendance?
Unless one of the following exemptions apply to your specific situation, you must attend an MIAM:
• Your relationship has a history of domestic violence, and a police investigation, injunction, or non-molestation order has been issued.
• The Court application you wish to make is related to other family law matters in which you are currently involved.
• An urgent application is required due to a member of your family’s safety, if there is a risk that a child will be unlawfully removed from the UK, or if social services are currently involved.
• You are both in agreement, and there is no disagreement.
• You have no idea where your ex-partner is.
• The disagreement is over money, and one of you has been declared bankrupt.
• There is no Mediator within 15 miles of your home, or you have contacted at least 3 Mediators but have not received an appointment within 15 working days.
• Your former partner continues to refuse to attend an MIAM, or a Mediator determines that Mediation is not appropriate.
• You have already attempted mediation within the last four months and were unsuccessful.
If you are nervous about attending an MIAM, rest assured that there is really nothing to worry about.
“A MIAM is a one-on-one meeting with both the Mediator who might sit down with you to discuss how Mediation works, learn more about you and the issues you need to resolve, and help you decide if Mediation is right for you. It is then entirely up to you and your former partner whether or not to continue.”
What is the Family Mediator’s role?
One of the reasons for the success of Family Mediation is that the Mediator remains truly unbiased and is only there to facilitate a conversation between you and your former partner. You can have your Mediation sessions in the same room as your former partner, or you can request to be in separate rooms, which makes Mediation more difficult. The Mediator will listen to both sides of the argument, allow both parties to have their voices heard as well as their wishes understood, and will assist you in discussing options and different ways to resolve the issues.
Mediation is not legally binding, but if proposals are reached that the parties want to be legally binding, the Mediator will explain how the parties can obtain a court order that reflects the terms of the mediated agreement.
Having the opportunity to sit down with your former partner in a safe and controlled environment, discuss the issues that are important to you, and then work together to find solutions is a much healthier alternative to the Court process, which can be emotionally and financially destructive.
“While Mediation is not an easy option, it is certainly faster and less expensive than the Court process. Family Mediation is not marriage counseling; rather, it is a method of resolving your differences and allowing both of you to move forward in your new life in a positive manner. If Family Mediation is not appropriate or successful, after which Court proceedings may well be required, but they should be viewed as a last resort when working to fix child as well as financial arrangements regarding a separation.”
To learn more about how we can assist you through Family Mediation, call her or the team at 0800 91 92 30 or Contact us.