• The Referral Process explained

    You can either make a direct referral to us by completing our referral form (see below), or, if you are instructing solicitors they can make the referral on your behalf

    Mediation information and assessment meetings (MIAMS)

    In April 2014 new procedures were introduced to encourage all parties to try to solve their disagreements prior to Court proceedings being issued. Anyone making an application to the Court for either financial arrangements following relationship breakdown, or regarding parenting issues such as contact and residence orders, should show that they have tried their hardest to settle matters without involving the Court. To do this most people making an application to the Court must first attend a meeting with an accredited mediator to consider mediation as a way of resolving matters. This meeting is called a Mediation Infomation an Assessment Meetng (MIAM). All mediators at Laceys hold the accreditation to conduct MIAMs and are able to certify compiance with this legal rquirement when needed by you. There is an expectation that the other party also attends a MIAM appointment.

    When you issue an application to the court, a judge will check whether you have complied with the above procedure, and can order you to attend a MIAM if you have not. This could lead to delay in the court dealing with your case and so it is important that you attend the MIAM before the court application is made.

    The mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) is a meeting with a mediator who will explain not only about mediation but also the other alternatives available to parties, such as collaborative law, having a solicitor represent them and going to Court. [Laceys is able to help on all of the above options]

    At the mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) the mediator will not only explain the mediation process but will also assess to see if you are eligible for legal aid for mediation. The majority of cases are suitable for mediation but mediation is voluntary and if you do not wish to mediate you will still be issued with an FM1. Mediation is considered one of the first ways of trying to find a solution to your problem and is covered in some detail elsewhere on this website.

    If you are eligible for legal aid [and can provide documentary evidence to support this] there will be no charge for your mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) as the cost will be covered by the Legal Services Commission. Even if you are not eligible for legal aid yourself, if your partner to the mediation is eligible and attends a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) – either with you or on their own – then you will not be charged for your mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). If you have already been to see us and paid for your appointment and the other party is subsequently found to be eligible for legal aid, in some cases your fee will be returned to you or credited from your first mediation session.

    What happens at the assessment meeting?

    The purpose of the initial assessment meeting [sometimes called an intake meeting or a MIAM] is to see if there are issues that are suitable for mediation, for the mediator to explain the process and to see whether or not you are eligible for public funding (legal aid). This meeting is sometimes free of charge (see the section dealing with our charges) and always without obligation.

    You can attend this meeting together with the other party if you wish, or you can attend separately. If you attend together, you will be seen alone for a few minutes as the mediator needs to ask you some questions on your own.

    If you are attending separately you are free to bring someone with you to this meeting. However, if you want someone other than the other party to be with you at the mediation, this is something that must be agreed with everyone prior to the start of mediation, so please raise this at your assessment meeting with the mediator.

    At your assessment meeting you will be given the option of mediating ‘around the table’ or in separate rooms, which we refer to as ‘shuttle mediation’.

    At Westbourne we have two waiting rooms and parties are always asked to wait separately. If you prefer to meet up with the other half of your mediation prior to starting, you are free to do so but many people prefer to wait on their own.

    At Southampton you will wait in the main waiting area, unless you ask before hand for us to make other arrangements (which we are happy to do). When you mediate, if you are shuttling, you will automatically be shown into a separate room on your arrival, so that you will not be required to sit in the same waiting area.

    The mediator will explain the process to you, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible with the process, so please let us know if there is any way that we can help, or anything that you are unsure about.

    If you decide to mediate you may wish to arrive and depart separately, and if this is the case please discuss this with the mediator at your assessment meeting, and we will make the necessary arrangements.