Since 22 April 2014, attendance at Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) has been compulsory before separating couples can apply for a court order in respect of finances of the marriage in divorce proceedings.
A MIAM is an introductory meeting to find out how mediation works, whether it is right for you, how long it is likely to take and how much it might cost. You are not obliged to use mediation following the MIAM if you feel that the service is not right for you.
Separated couples are often not keen to mediate because they have low expectations of what it can offer them, or they dread the thought of direct communication with one another. Recent research has shown that separated couples are shunning the mediation route and wanting to make applications straight to court.
However, a mediator offering a safe, neutral environment to look at what could be agreed is often very helpful. All mediators are trained and will assist you in negotiating a settlement. Mediation offers a cheaper alternative to court proceedings. Fees will vary but legal aid is available for those with low incomes.
Mediation also offers a less confrontational alternative to court proceedings; it provides an easier and less stressful environment than the court arena. This often results in an agreement with which you are both happy, rather than running the risk of something being imposed by the court that neither of you are particularly pleased with. It also paves the way for better communication in the future, which is particularly helpful if you have children and need to have ongoing contact with one another.
Once an agreement has been reached that agreement should be taken to a solicitor so that it can be drafted into a ‘Consent Order’. The Consent Order will need to be signed and approved by both parties before it is sent to the court to make the agreement binding and fully enforceable. This does not necessarily involve you going to court in person.
Author: Lowri White
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to JNP Legal directly.
Published on 23rd May 2016
(Last updated 23rd March 2018)