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Mediation Information & Awareness Meetings

DIVORCE/SEPARATION MEDIATION – INFORMATION SHEET

1. Family mediation is done through a series of “sessions”, rather than a single session.

2. It is preferable if the sessions are carried out at a neutral venue, but cost may have a bearing on this.

3. Prior to the first session, the mediator must be satisfied that there are no domestic abuse (emotional or physical) issues which would prevent the divorce/separation being mediated.

4. The sessions are usually held about 3 or 4 weeks apart.

5. It is normal for both parties to be with the mediator all the time – this enables the cost to be kept down and reduces the risk of misunderstandings arising.

6. The first session will normally last about 90 minutes, with subsequent ones lasting about 60 minutes.

7. The parties’ lawyers very seldom attend the sessions, so keeping the cost down.

8. The number of sessions primarily depends on whether there are dependant children involved and the complexity of the couple’s assets – the range is normally from 3 to 7 sessions.

9. The cost of each session is invoiced after that session and is due for payment before the next session.

10. Between each session, the couple have to take independent advice from their respective lawyers – as with any mediation, the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party.

11. In addition, between each session, the couple may agree to obtain financial information, such as the value of a property or the current/future worth of a pension scheme.

12. At the end of each session, the mediator prepares two documents to send to the parties. The first is an “open” document which sets out the financial assets and liabilities (both capital and income) of both parties. Each party has to confirm that it has made full and accurate disclosure – failure to do so may result in any agreed settlement being successfully challenged in court when the true facts become known.

13. The second document is a “without prejudice” one which records what offers/suggestions have been put forward by either party, or possibly by the mediator, as part of any proposed settlement agreement.

14. Both documents are passed by the parties to their respective lawyers after each session, so that they can obtain any necessary legal advice.

15. If the parties’ lawyers are satisfied with any agreement reached, the lawyers will convert it into a legal document to submit to the court.

16. If the court is satisfied that both parties have taken adequate legal advice and that the agreement reached is fair in all the circumstances, it will ratify the agreement and it becomes binding.

17. If agreement is not reached by the parties, the open document can be used in any subsequent court proceedings, but the without prejudice one cannot.

18. Since 6th April 2011, compulsory MIAMs (Mediation Information & Awareness Meetings) were introduced for family mediation (except where there are domestic violence or child protection issues).

19. All divorcing couples now have to attend a MIAM with an accredited family mediator (either individually, or as a couple) before they can commence proceedings in court. If either party refuses to attend such a meeting, they will have to complete a form (FM1) and submit it to the court, and

20. If, having attended a MIAM, either party or the mediator decides that mediation is not appropriate in that case, the matter can then proceed to court.

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