Our office in Birmingham is ideal for anyone living in Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Bromsgrove, Tamworth and Sutton Coldfield.
One of the best features of mediation is that our services are designed to fit around your needs and personal circumstances. You may have a very busy professional life, having to juggle work appointments and meetings. Alternatively, you could have many childcare responsibilities. Whatever your personal responsibilities, we will make sure that our appointments fit around your needs.
As well as appointments during the working day we also offer appointments at the evenings and weekends. We may also, occasionally, offer appointments at short notice. Our mediators understand that people’s lives are very busy and we offer appointments of different durations, and times, to make sure that they are compatible with your personal specifications.
The law regarding divorce and separation was amended in April 2014. It has affected couples in areas such as West Midlands, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Wolverhampton and Solihull as it requires couples who want to undergo the court process to resolve any issues regarding money, children and other assets such as houses to provide proof of attendance to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). It is a mandatory requirement before they can apply for a court order. The couple is invited to separate private meetings where the applicant (person requesting the court to intervene) will be required to attend the meeting. The other party is expected to attend but not compulsory unless where the court instructs.
The MIAM is a requirement introduced by the courts, and the government is convinced that mediation and other dispute resolution measures could help couples and families to settle their differences constructively and prudently. Arbitration, Collaborative family and mediation are sought after as alternatives to court cases as they are often cheaper, less confrontational and quicker.
Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is a meeting with a qualified family mediator from Aspire Birmingham who explains alternatives to legal court cases. The ultimate purpose of the meetings is to provide you with an opportunity to determine if proceeding to court is the best way forward to handle the issues that one faces in marriage breakdown. For example, property, financial matters such as debts, pensions, business assets, children and whether through mediation there could be an alternative.
During a MIAM, one discusses personal and confidential issues with the family mediator. Usually, this is a one on one meeting although one has the option of attending with the former partner if they both agree.
In a legal battle, the interests of other parties are not always taken into consideration. In a divorce, it is the interests of the separating couple which are of paramount concern. This can leave children and other members of the family leaving very confused.
They may feel left out of the process. Particularly in the case of children, they may feel that their parents are acting in their own interests and forgetting about them in the process.
Mediation turns that process on its head
In mediation, the interests of other parties are placed as being important to the process. Although mediation is a negotiation between the separating couple, mediators are trained to take the interests of all parties into consideration.
The mediator is tasked to provide options available to the couples to resolve the issues surrounding the separation including the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The mediator asks questions to make an assessment and determine if the process is suitable for you, taking into account the unique circumstances that surround each case.
The government has made MIAMs compulsory as currently many people who are divorcing or separating go to court to argue over issues which could be settled between them. Such matters include for example contact order( time taken to see the child or on which days), Residence order( Deciding the person to whom the child is to live with). Litigation is emotionally draining and can be expensive thus mediation is preferred a way to settle family disputes. Most families know best about their circumstances than third parties and as such the government encourages couples to make their arrangement when possible instead of rushing to court. The primary purpose of MIAMs is to enable couples to explore other various alternatives to them such as collaborative family law and mediation.
How much cost is MIAM? Well despite the legal aid cuts, for one who qualifies, legal aid is still available for specific mediation services. Depending on one’s income and capital, one may be eligible. The mediator who will offer legal assistance will assess suitability at the MIAM. Where one does not meet the requirement for public funding, a fee is to paid unless where the other partner who attends is eligible for the legal aid. In such a case the legal aid will incur the MIAM costs. It is advisable to ask for the fee as it may vary.
A skilled Aspire mediator Birmingham has the training and additional experience to make sure he or she can:
Assist by providing information to allow you to decide whether mediation is right for you and your partner.
Talk through the different mediation options.
Whether one is comfortable and safe in the mediation process.
In some instances where one partner may be reluctant to attend the MIAM process, the law provides for the willing partner to visit and assess whether another route could be appropriate for your family and your circumstances. However this may change where the other party is compelled by a court to attend, then they must.
There, however, is a specific exemption for attending the MIAMs. In some circumstances where there may be occurrences of violence or risk of harm to the children, one can request the court to decide on what should happen without the need to attend any of the meetings. If financial decisions have been made and agreed upon the court can convert this to consent order hence there will be no need to attend MIAM. The court through the application form outlines the possible exemptions that can apply to the unique situations.
One cannot make a court application without attending a MIAM unless in cases where specific exemptions apply to your situation. The court will confirm if the exemption claimed is valid. If found not to be valid the court will require the applicant to go for the MIAM before it looks into the application. If for one reason or another one partner decides all the alternatives including mediation is not suitable, the other partner can request the courts to get involved in the matter.
While choosing a family mediator, choose a person who will make you feel comfortable to work with and give you the confidence in the process. Look for a mediator who is professionally trained and a member of the Family Mediation Council organisation.