Monday, 3 October 2016

FAMILY MEDIATION CHANGE

In family law,  there is much talk of MIAMs. Your solicitor (if you are lucky enough to have one) will tell you "But, you'll have to go on a MIAM, you know." And the court clerk will say "This is no good. Your MIAM documentation is missing. Go to the back to the bottom of the class."

A MIAM is a mediation information and assessment meeting which is a bit of a mouthful. So let's call it a MIAM for short! It's a meeting with a trained mediator at which info is provided about how parties to a family dispute can attempt to settle their differences through mediation and an assessment will be made about whether the dispute in question has any real chance of a mediated settlement. Ideally, both sides will go to a meeting and the dispute will be resolved which will please the court no end as it won't be troubled with proceedings.  But mediation cannot be forced on the parties and it's generally the party wanting to go to court who has to attend the meeting before starting proceedings.

MIAMs apply to most cases involving disputes over the welfare of children and applications in matrimonial proceedings for financial remedy orders (for maintenance, property transfer etc). There area load of exceptions to the requirement for a MIAM attendance: in particular, where the party wishing to go to court has been the subject of domestic violence by the other party. 

Up until now, something must have happened over domestic violence within two years of the case starting. In cases starting on or after 3 October 2016, that two years is increasing to five years.  And so, for example, a MIAM will not be needed where within the previous five years there has been a conviction for a domestic violence offence, a non-molestation order has been granted or the other party has gone a court undertaking not to use or threaten violence.