Questions & Answers about Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
Q. Is attendance at the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting compulsory before a Family Court application concerning children or finances can be made?
A. No, but it is to be encouraged. Having attended the information session, clients do not have to start Mediation.
The purpose of the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is to allow people to make their own informed decisions as to the best way to solve their family dispute. Without the MIAM an informed decision cannot be guaranteed. Research in this country and abroad consistently indicates that 70% of cases settled through Mediation and the outcomes are more satisfactory, longer lasting, and empowering for couples and their children rather than Court imposed Orders.
Mediation itself is NOT COMPULSORY
Q. Do people have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting even where there has been domestic violence?
A. Yes, unless the Police have been called out within the last twelve months. However, we offer separate meetings at separate times and an assessment can be made as to whether Mediation is suitable. Our service will automatically allocate separate meetings for assessments unless otherwise arranged.
In a number of cases where there has been some level of domestic violence, couples feel able to go on to Mediate once they realise that they will be in a safe environment in. Mediation puts a structure to the discussion and enables negotiations to proceed safely.
We will discuss what measures are appropriate to provide that safe environment. This may involve Mediation taking place in separate rooms (shuttle) or for there to be separate waiting areas, arrival and departure times.
Q. Do people have to pay for the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting
A. It depends whether they are entitled to free Mediation or not.
If they are entitled to free Mediation, they will not have to pay. If they are not entitled, they will have to pay a fee for the meeting.
At present we are able to offer Assessment Meetings charged at an equivalent rate to that payable by the Legal Services Commission in Legal Aid cases, currently £87.00, plus VAT (total £104.40).
Q. How will the client’s rights be protected in Mediation?
A. Mediators recommend clients instruct a solicitor and obtain legal advice before commencing Mediation. We liaise with the solicitors instructed in order that the solicitors know the progress which is being made and our Mediators will refer clients back to their legal adviser to receive further advice during the course of the Mediation process, providing sufficient information to enable that legal advice to be given.
At the end of Mediation, any agreement reached in Mediation is not binding. Clients have the opportunity to see their lawyers, who can then advise on the proposed terms.
Our Mediators are Lawyer Mediators who can provide legal information within the Mediation process (whilst not advising them). This helps in achieving an appropriate solution that a Court is likely to ratify. The Mediator is actively involved in assisting the problem solving, information gathering and reality testing of proposals.
It is the Mediator’s role to ensure clients understand the process, the information provided and that they make informed decisions. We also have a bank of external support services to assist where appropriate.
Q. Why Mediate rather than going to Court?
If clients can problem solve together, with professional support they are better able to deal with the breakdown of their relationship, maintain control over the practicalities of its end and parent effectively as separated parents. It sends a strong message to children that they have handled a difficult emotional and practical change in their life appropriately and taken responsibility for finding a solution. Outcomes reached by clients in Mediation concerning parenting arrangements are more longstanding and more acceptable to the family as a whole.
We are concerned to help clients learn to manage changes in their children’s lives for the benefit of all concerned.
Delays in the Court system exacerbate the emotional impact of family disputes by prolonging them. Children can be particularly affected by this if their parents are distressed by ongoing litigation. It can be extremely stressful. An average case in litigation is a year. This is a long time in a child’s life. Often when children are of an age and maturity to express their wishes and feelings parents prefer their children to have the opportunity to engage in Direct Child Consultation.
At Midlands Mediation we have two fully trained All Issues Mediators who are qualified in Direct Child Consultation.
We can therefore obtain the children’s views and feed those views back to the parents.
This can be a very powerful process but in our experience is extremely valuable in achieving solutions for the children’s arrangements.
If one or both of the couple are legally aided, they will not have to pay for Mediation or pay back legal costs from the settlement reached, which is the case with most financial proceedings when the Statutory Charge will apply.
If clients are not eligible for Legal Aid, their costs will still be a small proportion of the costs of taking their case to Court.
On average it will cost an individual between £7,000 and £15,000 to take a case to Court. (£14,000 to £30,000 per couple.) Mediation costs are often in the region of £500 to £2,000 per person (£1,000 to £4,000 per couple, depending on the complexity of the case, and can be less).