In private law, children, and financial remedy proceedings, there is a requirement for an application to initiate proceedings to be accompanied by a form containing either confirmation from an authorised mediator that the prospective applicant has attended a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or, a claim by the prospective applicant that one of the MIAM exemptions applies.

What is a MIAM?

A MIAM is a first meeting with a specially trained mediator to consider whether your issues can be resolved without going to court.  This is an individual meeting and a confidential meeting to give you an opportunity to talk about your situation and the issues that need to be addressed. The mediator will provide you with information about the non-court dispute resolution options, including mediation and discuss with you their advantages and disadvantages.

Circumstances in which the MIAM requirement does not apply:

If you want to issue an application at court it is a requirement in most cases to first attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting and attach to your application confirmation from the mediator of attendance at the MIAM. This does not however apply in every case.  The circumstances where a MIAM requirement does not apply are as follows:

  • Evidence of domestic abuse
    The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines ‘abusive behaviour’ as any of the following: 
    • Physical or sexual abuse
    • Violent of threatening behaviour
    • Controlling or coercive behaviour
    • Economic abuse
    • Psychological, emotional or other abuse
  • Child protection concerns
  • Urgency
    • There is risk to the life, liberty or physical safety of the prospective applicant or his or her family or his or her home; or
    • any delay caused by attending a MIAM would cause:
      • a risk of harm to a child;
      • a risk of unlawful removal of a child from the UK, or risk of unlawful retention of a child who is currently outside England and Wales;
      • a significant risk of miscarriage of justice;
      • significant financial hardship to the prospective applicant; or
      • irretrievable problems in dealing with the dispute (including the irretrievable loss of significant evidence); or
      • there is a significant risk that in the period necessary to schedule and attend a MIAM, proceedings relating to the dispute will be brought in another state in which a valid claim to jurisdiction may exist, such that a court in that other state would be seised of the dispute before a court in England and Wales.
  • Previous MIAM attendance or non-court resolution attendance
    • In the 4 months prior to making the application, the person attended a MIAM or non-court dispute resolution process relating to the same or substantially the same dispute and where the person attended a non-court dispute resolution process there is evidence of that attendance.
    • The application would be made in existing proceedings which are continuing, and the prospective applicant attended a MIAM before initiating those proceedings.
  • Other
    • Prospective applicant is bankrupt;
    • The application would be made without notice (paragraph 5.1 of Practice Direction 18A sets out the circumstances in which applications may be made without notice);
    • The prospective applicant is subject to a disability or other inability that would prevent attendance in person at a MIAM unless appropriate facilities can be offered by an authorised mediator. This provision extends to proving incapacity to attend online or by video link first.  They would then have to contact as many authorised family mediators as have an office within fifteen miles of their home (or five or them if there are five or more) and all have stated that they are unable to provide such facilities;  
    • The prospective applicant is in prison or other institution and facilities cannot be made available for them to attend a MIAM online or by video-link or subject to bail or licence conditions preventing contact with the other person;
    • A child is one of the prospective parties;
    • Lack of availability of a local mediator if online is not possible; and
    • Non-existence of any local mediator if online is not possible.

What happens at a MIAM?

Only an authorised family mediator can conduct a MIAM.

At the MIAM the authorised mediator must:

  • Provide information about the principles, process and different models of mediation, and information about other methods of non-court dispute resolution;
  • Consider an explain the potential benefits of mediation and other methods of non-court dispute resolution as a means of resolving the dispute;
  • Assess whether there has been, or is a risk of domestic abuse;
  • Assess whether there has been, or is a risk of, harm by a prospective party to a child that would be subject of the application; and
  • Indicate to those attending the MIAM which form, or forms of non-court dispute resolution may be most suitable as a means of resolving the dispute and why and provide information about how to proceed with the form, or forms of non-court dispute resolution in question.

Our approach to non-court dispute resolution

At Watson Morris we will gain an understanding of your circumstances and how your family communicate with one another, both before and after your separation.  We will also carefully assess with you the appropriateness and suitability of using different non-court dispute resolution options. If you need to attend a MIAM we will guide your through the process and refer you to an authorised meditator.  

For an overview of all the non-court dispute resolution options we can support you with, visit  Dispute Resolution – Watson Morris Family Law or you can download our guide to dispute resolution.

For an initial fee no obligation discussion to see how we can help please contact us.

Written by Caroline Watson

April 30, 2024

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