Do I have to go to mediation?

When considering this question, it is necessary to draw a distinction between mediation sessions, and a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), as different rules apply:

  • Attendance at mediation sessions is not compulsory.
  • Attending a MIAM is a legal requirement.

In short, nobody can compel you to attend mediation sessions. However, if you plan to take your family law issues to court, it is a legal requirement for you to have attended a MIAM beforehand.

Why do I need to attend a MIAM?

It is compulsory to attend a MIAM before issuing court proceedings so you can prove to the judge that you have met with a mediator and explored other options for resolving your issue before resorting to court.

What happens if I don’t attend a MIAM?

If you have not attended a MIAM, a judge can adjourn the proceedings until you do. You will be expected to explain why you didn’t attend and if the judge feels your non-attendance was without good reason, you can be ordered to pay a contribution towards the other party’s legal costs.

Are there any exemptions from attending a MIAM?

In certain circumstances, attendance at a MIAM is not compulsory. This can apply in cases where there has been domestic abuse, there are no mediators within a 15-mile travelling distance, the case needs to be heard urgently, there is concerns about child safety, or if the case is linked to another ongoing case.

Why attending mediation sessions can be beneficial

Mediation can be a much faster, cheaper, and less stressful way to resolve family law issues relating to children, financial support, and property division. Both parties sit down with a trained and impartial family mediator who helps you both to identify your goals and concerns and to explore all the options for resolving your issues and reaching an agreement.

The mediator does not make decisions for you but helps you to reach mutually acceptable agreements without the need to go to court.

What happens if I want to go to mediation but not to see my ex-partner?

It can be difficult to sit and communicate with an ex-partner when emotions are still running high. There are two possible ways to overcome this. Firstly, couples can consider shuttle mediation, where each person sits in a separate room and communication is achieved through the mediator who shuttles between both rooms. Secondly, some mediation services offer a choice of online mediation.

It is also possible to have a support person with you throughout mediation, to offer emotional support and to help you to keep focused on your overall goals. This can help with meeting an ex face to face when your feelings are still raw and intense.

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