Mediation Process (Private Law)



From 6th April 2011, no-one can make an application to the family court in England and Wales without first, attending a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) as in compliance with the Pre-Application Protocol of the Family Proceedure Rules 2010 (Part 3 Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Court’s Powers) which requires parties to attend a non-mandatory meeting to learn about mediation.

On the 13th March 2014, The Children and Families Act 2014 gained royal assent and became law. This meant that before making a relevant family application (c100), a person MUST attend a family mediation information and assessment meeting.

The Ministry of Justice has introduced the new pre-action protocol as guidelines for the process which can be found on their website here.


Before you go to court – Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM)

Before you start court proceedings over the arrangements for children, it is now been made mandatory (Apr 2014) to attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.

In other words, If you are in dispute with your ex, or are having difficulties settling your separation, and are thinking about starting court proceedings, you will have to obtain a FM1 form from the mediator to accompany your c100 application to the court.

The aim of the meeting is to see if mediation could be used to resolve your difficulties, rather than going straight to court.
NB. Courts are required to know that mediation has been considered (FM1) before they are able to proceed with your application.


How Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings work

At a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, the mediator will try to work out if mediation can help you reach an agreement. They can also give you advice on any other services that may be able to help you. During the meeting, you’ll be able to find out more about mediation and ask any questions you may have.

You can attend the meeting alone or with your husband, wife or civil partner.

If you want to meet the mediator alone

If you want to meet the mediator alone, the mediator will ask you for your husband, wife or civil partner’s contact details before the meeting. The mediator will contact them to find out if they are willing to try mediation. If they don’t want to try mediation, you won’t have to attend the meeting. If they agree to meeting the mediator, you will be able to meet the mediator alone.

After the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting

After the meeting, if you and the mediator feel that mediation can help you reach an agreement, you can start mediation sessions.

If you are not going to start mediation sessions, the mediator will fill in a form FM1 and give it to you (litigant in person) or your solicitor. You should include this form with your application papers if you decide to go to court.

When you won’t be expected to have a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting

The court won’t expect you to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting if:

  • the mediator shows on form FM1 that mediation isn’t suitable because one of you didn’t want to attend a Mediation and Assessment Meeting
  • a mediator doesn’t think the case is suitable for mediation and has said so within the past four months
  • either of you has made an allegation of domestic violence against the other within the past 12 months and police investigations or civil proceedings were started
  • your dispute is about money and either of you is bankrupt
  • you don’t know where your husband, wife or civil partner is
  • you want to apply for a court order but for specific reasons don’t intend to give your husband, wife or civil partner any notice
  • the court application is urgent because someone’s life or physical safety is at risk or a child is at risk of significant harm
  • the order is about a child who is already involved with social services because of concerns over their protection
  • you’ve contacted three mediators within 15 miles of your home and are unable to get an appointment with any of them within 15 working days

What is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting?

The MIAM is a meeting between you and a mediator to find out if there are alternative ways to find solutions to your problems.
The mediator will explain to you:
•   what your options might be
•   what mediation is, and how it works
•   the benefits of mediation and other appropriate forms of resolving disputes
•   the likely costs of using mediation
•   if you are eligible for free mediation and Legal Aid.
The meeting can be between the mediator and just you, or with your ex-partner too.

How long is the meeting?

The meeting usually lasts around 45 minutes.

What happens after the meeting?

The mediator will be able to tell you if your case is suitable for mediation. If it is, he or she will advise you of the next steps.

What happens if mediation does not go ahead?

If, after your MIAM, it’s considered that mediation is not suitable in your case, the mediator will supply you with a FM1 form. Signed by a certified mediator, this form confirms that you have attended a MIAM. A court will then allow you to issue proceedings.

The cost of mediation

You may be able to get help to pay for the cost of mediation

You may be able to get help to pay for the cost of mediation. This depends on whether you are able to get legal aid. You can check if you qualify by calling Community Legal Advice or use the legal aid eligibility calculator by following the links below.

If you don’t qualify for free mediation, you will have to pay for each mediation session. Charges per session vary according to individual mediation services. As a guideline, legal aid pays:

  • £87 plus VAT per person for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting for one person
  • £130 plus VAT for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting where both partners are present

You should shop around and discuss charges with mediators before you choose which one to use.

Find family mediators near you

Find a family mediator (Opens new window)


Find a legal adviser or family mediator service HERE


You can also get details of family mediators near you from the Family Mediation Database by using the link below. When you’re looking for a mediator, you should check that they’re recognised by the Family Mediation Council.

A list of the Family Mediation Council (FMC) member organisations, the family mediation bodies which have demonstrated that they meet the requirements of the FMC’s constitution, is given below:

You can also call Community Legal Advice. They can give you general advice if you’re eligible for legal aid, including whether you case may be suitable for mediation.


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