To start mediation one of the parties must complete a self-referral form online unless a referral has already been made by one of their lawyers.
If you submit an online referral form you must also book and pay for an initial fixed fee (£125) Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting better known as ‘MIAM’. This will then trigger the mediation service to write to your ex-partner to invite them to also book an initial separate assessment meeting.
It should be noted, Holistic Family Mediation is a private paying online family mediation service – not in person. All meetings are conducted via Zoom.
The MIAM is a legal requirement for anyone contemplating issuing a family law application in the UK unless they are exempt. See FAQs page to find out more about what exemptions apply. The protocol is in place to try an engage as many couples as possible to consider dispute resolution options, like mediation and arbitration before going to court, where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Mediation will not be suitable in every case; the mediator’s role at the MIAM is to give information on all dispute resolution options and to explain how mediation works in practice plus to find out about each parties issues and concerns. A key role of the mediator is to assess suitability by carrying out domestic abuse and safety screening.
If there are any ‘red flags’ like concerns raised about severe domestic abuse/ coercive control or significant welfare/ safety issues raised that need to be investigated by a professional third party than the matter will be assessed as not suitable for mediation. If unsuitable, a MIAM certificate will be issued to evidence the fact that a MIAM has taken place to allow the case to progress through the court system.
If the matter is considered suitable for mediation and both parties are willing to participate in the process (mediation is voluntary and cannot be mandated in the UK), the parties will be invited to purchase their first fixed fee (£187.50) joint 90 minutes mediation session. They will be asked to purchase one of the below sessions from our services page depending on what issues they need to consider and reach agreement upon:
1. Mediation – all issues (finances and children), first joint session
2. Mediation – children only, first joint session
3. Mediation – finances only, first joint session
Upon making the purchase a package of documents will be automatically sent to help participants prepare for productive mediation sessions. In addition, the Agreement to Mediate contract will be sent to sign and return, confirming their understanding of the key principles of mediation and ground rules, committing to the process.
A joint Zoom meeting will then be arranged. Prior to or at the outset of the first meeting, the separating couple will be supported by the mediator to agree on an agenda/framework for them to work through in order of priority and in line with what is most important to them both.
During the mediation sessions I will help participants:
· Define the issues
· Identify areas of agreement
· Clarify areas of disagreement
· Explore options
· Provide pragmatic guidance and legal/ other information
· Evaluate options and consider the net effect/ impact of any proposals to help parties reach their own informed resolutions.
We will then get in touch with your ex-partner (unless requested not to at this stage) to encourage them to engage in the process highlighting the benefits of family mediation - it supports a kinder, compassionate divorce, lower costs, staying in control of outcomes and allows for a quicker resolution compared to court-based proceedings.