Is Family Mediation Compulsory?
When two people enter into the mediation process it is a voluntary choice and an individual can say no. I discuss the family mediation process here: What is the family mediation process?
The voluntary part to family mediation is crucial. It is there so that each person is able to discuss matters freely and without risk or threat of harm. I also decide (through separate meetings) whether mediation will be suitable or appropriate for the individuals involved. If we decide together that mediation can go ahead, I will ask for consent in writing and this consent will also confirm that both parties agree to my acting as their mediator and that they are entering the process on a voluntary basis.
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings – MIAMS
Since 2014, in advance of any application to the family court a prospective Applicant is required to attend a MIAM with an accredited family mediator (unless they satisfy one of the exemptions)
MIAM is not mediation. It is a way of seeing whether all non-court resolution has been considered before asking a judge to make decisions for these individuals. A MIAM is an opportunity to receive information about mediation and other forms of resolving disputes and provide relevant signposting that maybe useful to each and both individuals. This is the purpose of a MIAM.
The “trigger” for a MIAM is a settled intent to start a court case (make a court application). It is not to force any individual or couple into taking part in mediation.
However, attending a MIAM is compulsory for any Applicant in most family court Applications and the Respondent is encouraged to attend (in either case, unless they satisfy one of the exemptions). A MIAM is usually conducted individually and no-one is compelled to attend with their former partner.
A Respondent may choose to attend a MIAM separately and this should be with the same authorised family mediator.