On this page you can see a list of our most commonly asked questions and the answers, helping you to gain a better understanding of the services that we provide
What is a MIAM?
A MIAM or Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting is a confidential first meeting which provides an opportunity for you to find out more about mediation and discuss whether it might be suitable for your situation. The Family Courts now require anyone applying to Court for an order about their Children or people have been married who need to resolve issues about finance and property to attend a MIAM session with an authorised mediator or prove they are exempt before the Court will accept an application.
I offer Initial Assessment Meetings for all the mediation work I do not just family because it helps clients understand the process and make an informed choice about whether it might suit their situation and it helps me understand what the dispute is about and plan how to organise the sessions to help them make progress. Attending a MIAM can help you gain information about how to prepare and where to get more information and advice about your alternatives.
Clients can choose whether to come to a MIAM together and each have some separate time with me within that meeting or to come on their own and I will then invite the other potential client to their own meeting. The contents of each MIAM meeting are not shared between clients and there is no obligation on you to continue on to mediation with the other person if you don’t want to.
An individual MIAM is for up to 60 minutes and costs £95
A joint MIAM is for up to 90 minutes and costs £150 (£75 each)
What is mediation?
Mediation is designed to help people negotiate solutions step-by-step.
The first stage is for me as a mediator, is to speak with each person confidentially to find out the background to the situation, what each person hopes to resolve and discuss whether mediation might be suitable. This is usually in a separate meeting called a MIAM. If everybody agrees, then mediation can be arranged and organised so that everyone feels able to speak up for themselves.
I manage the mediation process helping all parties stick to the point, observe rules of courtesy and discuss issues in a logical and manageable way. I don’t take sides or tell people what they should do. I help everyone reality test any proposed solutions and encourage everyone to get advice when they need it. Special confidentiality rules apply so that discussion can’t be quoted in court. This gives everyone the freedom to raise and explain their ideas about how to resolve issues.
How much does it cost?
Finding a mediator who everyone feels comfortable and confident to work with is not just a matter of cost. Mediation costs a lot less than using the courts, but I realise how important it is to keep fees affordable whilst maintaining high professional standards and quality. My service is designed to help clients have the best chance of resolving problems at a realistic price with:
- advice on whether you might qualify for Legal Aid for Family Mediation
- fixed fees for each mediation meeting
- meetings scheduled at times and intervals to suit clients, including Skype if required
- an agreed structure for meetings with guidance on how to prepare to make best use of the meeting time
- referrals and collaboration with other specialists who can support the process of peaceful resolution when needed e.g. Counsellors or Child Consultation Specialists
- access to support by email and telephone between meetings to ensure that everyone follows up on agreed actions, knows what they need to do to prepare for the next meeting and shares agreed information.
Pre-Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Individual = £95
Couple = £75 ea.
Mediation Sessions £100 per client per hour.
The length, number, and type of meetings will depend on the issues and the extent to which everyone is able to have productive discussions.
I have heard you have to try mediation. Is that right?
Because mediation is so successful at resolving disputes quickly and economically, the courts will usually encourage you to try mediation first.
For disputes about children or property and finance matters, the Family Court now requires that anyone applying to court attends a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with an accredited Family Mediator to determine if mediation may be suitable, unless they can prove that they are exempt.
A judge can delay a civil or family case which has been started at court to allow time to try settlement using mediation. A judge can also order a person to explain to the court why they were not willing to mediate and order anyone who has unreasonably refused to try mediation to pay a costs penalty.
If a case has started, but you think mediation might help, get in touch for some expert advice.
What sorts of disputes can be helped by mediation?
Mediation can help in any dispute where each side is willing to accept that by discussion and respectful negotiation, they may get an acceptable result preferable to either going to court, feuding, or ignoring the problem. Choosing a mediator with relevant experience can speed up the process.
The Family Court requires assessments about whether disputes are suitable for Family Mediation (MIAMS), which must be dealt with by a qualified Family Mediator.
Why is mediation better than court?
Most lawyers will tell you that a cast iron case is a rare thing and that winning and enforcement are two different matters. Even if one side is completely right, fighting to win through lawyers or at court can be very stressful, time consuming, expensive, and may take months or even years. Other factors to be taken into consideration include:
- winners at court do not usually recover all of their costs and may run up legal bills of thousands of pounds
- judges can only award a limited range of remedies which the people involved may feel are not sufficient or appropriate for their situation
- fighting to win usually results in long term damage to relationships between people who will need to co-operate in the future e.g. parents and work colleagues.
Research has shown that mediation supported by good legal and financial advice is quicker, cheaper and more likely to achieve a successful resolution that everyone feels able to stick to.
Because discussions in mediation are confidential, it doesn’t harm anyone’s chances in court if it doesn’t result in complete agreement.
If you believe court may be an option, view my free list of questions you might want to ask a lawyer.
When is the best time to try mediation?
Offering to mediate shows that you are willing to try to look for a positive solution. If previous attempts to communicate directly have not gone well, then offering to try mediation may calm the situation and help people to focus on what is in everyone’s interest, rather than justifying their position.
As part of the initial assessment process, I help all clients consider whether they are ready to mediate.
What if the other person won’t agree to mediation?
People are more likely to agree to mediate if they believe that talking to the other person is either preferable to, or more likely to work than any alternatives they have thought of.
Mediation may be an unfamiliar idea and it is sometimes wrongly assumed that it will be like court or that the other person is incapable of negotiating. A chat with a mediator can help.
An initial invitation to discuss mediation from a mediator can be more effective than an approach from a lawyer or the person they are in dispute with.
Do I need a lawyer?
Consulting a lawyer helps you know where you stand if you have to go to court and what you might expect to happen at what cost.
Lawyers also write letters arguing why they think the law might be on your side and will try to get you the best legal outcome that they can. However, most people have busy lives and concerns about fairness and practicality, as well as legal rights.
Mediation isn’t like a court hearing, there is no need for legal argument. You know your situation best, and so in mediation you will be invited to respectfully discuss what is important to you, listen to the other person’s views and suggest anything that might help to resolve the conflict in a way that takes into account the needs of both of you.
You remain free to take legal advice whenever you wish.
Do you give legal advice?
As a mediator I can provide everyone with information about the legal process and alternatives to court. Good decisions need good information and so I encourage everyone to come to mediation with the best possible information so that they are realistic about their options.
I cannot advise on what is best for you, or whether a judge would rule in your favour since that is the role of your legal adviser. My role is to support both sides in making decisions that work for them. I can suggest useful sources of information and help. For example, I can explain about available welfare benefits to separating couples who need to maximise their income so that they can afford to live apart.
My legal background enables me to help everyone save valuable time and costs by drawing attention to issues that may require independent advice from a lawyer or financial adviser.
Do we have to meet face to face?
No, but it is sometimes helpful to do so, especially if there is a need to break the ice or repair an ongoing relationship.
Mediation works best when people can be honest about their own position and needs, and are prepared to show not only that they have understood the other person’s situation, but also that they trust them to negotiate in good faith. That can be harder to achieve when people refuse to meet.
However, safety is a priority, and I will only propose clients meet in the same room if it is safe and appropriate to do so.
What if the other side tries to bully me to settle?
Mediation is a voluntary process and clients are free to stop at any time. It is part of my role to manage the process, ensuring everyone feels able to speak, allows others to be heard and that everybody behaves respectfully. I can end a meeting if it is no longer constructive.
Agreements are not final until everyone has had a chance to seek advice and have agreed to make them legally binding. Therefore no client is obliged to agree to anything that is not in their best interests.
What happens if we don’t settle the dispute at mediation?
Not every mediation results in a complete settlement of all of the issues. If that happens, you still have any other alternative options open to you, just as you did before you agreed to mediate.
The Court regards discussions in mediation as confidential. After mediation you should at least have a better idea of how each side views the issues, their position, and the reasons for it. This should save time and money if either of you decide to pursue settlement elsewhere.