From April 2011, couples seeking a court ordered divorce settlement or any order relating to arrangements for children or financial remedies following a relationship breakdown, have been expected to take part in a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) in an attempt to minimise the time taken up by disputing couples in the family law court system.
Family lawyers in Brighton, London and across England and Wales have undertaken special training in order to become court-approved mediators and lead these sessions.
How mediation can help
A lengthy court hearing for a divorce settlement can be costly and emotionally stressful. Such cases are sometimes blamed for clogging up the court system and the Government has made calls for more resources to be made available so that couples can avoid acrimonious courtroom battles.
In mediation, a trained family mediator will listen to the parties’ concerns and will attempt to help them agree upon a settlement. This can be in respect of matters involving finances, property, possessions and arrangements for children.
The meetings will take place at a neutral meeting place – each party can initially meet the mediator on their own for an initial discussion of their personal view of the dispute. Once mediation sessions are put in place the two parties, and the mediator, will meet together. When the discussions are going to focus on arrangements for children, the children can attend the meeting if everyone agrees and it is deemed appropriate.
Agreements made during the course of mediation sessions are not, by themselves, legally binding. However, mediators are trained to ensure that the conditions agreed to by those being mediated are fair. Family lawyers and divorce solicitors who represent the parties can also attend the sessions (although this will incur fees for their time) and once terms have been agreed, an application can be made to the courts for a consent order.
What happens if mediation is not for you?
If, after having attended a MIAM, you decide that mediation is not for you, the mediator will complete a form FM1 which can be given to your family lawyer. This form should be included when applying to the court for a court order.
Although it is possible to apply for court orders without the representation of a family lawyer, it is always advisable to seek legal advice before making an application. Once a court order is made it will be extremely difficult, and costly, to challenge if you believe it is unfair. The advice of an experienced divorce solicitor may prevent such problems in the future by ensuring that any application is fair and in your best interests.
Healys’ family lawyers can help you in your divorce settlement
If you need more help and advice about mediation, or if you are unsure whether your circumstances mean that you do not need to attend a MIAM, call the family law team at Healys in Brighton or London today.
Our team of divorce solicitors and family lawyers has many years’ experience and we have trained collaborative lawyers on hand to help if that is the route you choose. We are all members of Resolution and always attempt to conduct divorce settlement negotiations on an amicable, respectful and conciliatory basis.
However, where such an approach is not appropriate we will use robust actions to ensure that our clients and their dependents are protected.
If you wish to speak to a divorce solicitor in Brighton please call 01273 685 888 or email an enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively the family law team in London can be reached on 020 7822 4000.
We look forward to helping you.