MIAMS/FM1 information page
After a marriage or relationship has broken down, there are many important matters to decide, including arrangements for children and financial affairs. In the past, many couples having disputes over this type of issue headed straight for court. However, the law changed in 2011, introducing new procedures. The change was made because it was felt that in most cases it is easier, cheaper and better all round for families if issues can be solved away from court.
How MIAMs Work
Under current legislation, in most situations, if you are seeking a court order over certain types of family matter you must first have a mediation meeting. The proceedings concerned include family finance, property and arrangements for children. Before you can apply to court for an order of this type, you are required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). If both partners feel mediation would work for them, it is possible to have joint MIAMs. Otherwise, separate meetings can be held with each partner.
At the MIAMs, a trained family mediator will explain to you how the mediation process works. The mediator then assesses how well-suited your particular issues are to mediation. If it is felt that mediation could be suitable, you and your ex-partner will be asked whether you want to go ahead. The mediation would involve a series of meetings with both of you, to try to find an amicable resolution over the matters in dispute.
At MIAMs, as well as explaining mediation, advisors will also look at other forms of proceeding which might help, such as negotiations between solicitors. You will also be given information about resources and organisations which might be of use to you, such as counselling and debt advice. There are charges for mediation, but people on very low incomes could qualify for free sessions.
Reasons for Issuing an FM1 Form
In some cases is felt that mediation is not appropriate, or you and your former partner may decide not to go ahead with it. In this situation, the mediator will issue a Family Mediation 1 (FM1) form, allowing you or your solicitor to go ahead with applying for a court order. There is a time limit on the form, which means that you have to make the application within the four months following your MIAMs. If you don’t do this, you will need to arrange another MIAM to see whether the situation has changed, meaning that mediation is now likely to succeed.
Although most people applying for a court order have to hold an initial MIAM, there are some exceptions. These include cases where it has proved impossible to get in touch with an ex-partner, or where there is an allegation of domestic abuse or concerns over child protection issues. Another exception if one partner is bankrupt and the issue to be raised is financial. There may also be no need for a MIAM if the application is part of an ongoing case, or where an urgent court order is needed.
To arrange a MIAM/FM1 Call us FREE on 03300 101 367 – Open 8:30 am to 8pm 7 days per week