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23 April 2014
The 22nd April 2014 has been a long time coming for mediators, with sweeping changes being introduced under section 10 of the Children and Family Act. So what does this mean for clients and why have us mediators been holding our breaths for this date?
From the 22nd April 2014 it will now become compulsory for separating couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAMs) before they can issue financial or children proceedings. Mediation is still a volunatry process for all clients, however attendance at a MIAMs has become compulsory for the applicant. The respondent, however, can if they wish still refuse to attend.
The government want to hand over the mantle of resolving disputes about their finances or their children back to parents with the assistance of a third person, the mediator. This is one of the reasons why legal aid remains available (subject to financial eligibility) for mediation and has not been withdrawn as it has in so many other areas of family law.
The governments belief is that couples in dispute who attend the MIAMs will find out more about mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods; learn how court can be avoided and how they as couples can be the decision maker, without the need of a judge. The mediator will also highlight that issues can be resolved quicker through mediation and at a fraction of the cost of court proceedings.
Only in exceptional circumstances will an applicant be allowed to start court proceedings without the assessment and suitability of mediation being carried out first.
To find out more about the mediation process, including the MIAMs, and whether or not you will be eligible for legal aid within the mediation process please contact our head Mediator, Wendy Campbell on 01924 376161 or contact us via the website.
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