MIAMS Are Not the Way to Encourage Divorcing Couples to Mediate

The concept of MIAMS was introduced in April 2011. The full form of MIAMS is Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings which became a compulsory part during the process of mediation. It was made mandatory for all the couples to attend MIAMs during the process of mediation, especially for those couples who have decided for a divorce. It was issued that all the couples have to attend MIAMs in April 2014 before they get the permission to take their matter to the court. But then, something strange happened. According to the Legal Aid Statistics published by The Ministry of Justice for October to December 2015, a sharp decline was observed in the number of MIAMs. The number of MIAMs went down by 16%.

The main motive of these meetings is to carry out an assessment of whether the process of mediation is suitable for the couple or not. The mediator tries to avoid the situation of going to the court for a legal proceeding for the family. It is a fact that mediation is not meant for everyone. But it definitely has some benefits which are as follows –

a) If the matter is taken to the court, the decision is transferred in the hands of the judge. Whereas mediation gives the divorcing couples an opportunity to have a good amount of control in their matter so that both the partners can work together and arrive at a practical agreement.

b) In the process of mediation, the cooperation to reach the conclusion leads to a less hostile situation. Communication is encouraged and there is a chance to reduce the stress levels as well.

c) Mediation is considered to be a faster process. It is cheaper than hiring a litigator and helpful for those couples who have to take decisions for their children as well. In such cases, factors like flexibility and compromise become necessary.

But despite all the advantages mentioned above, the introduction of mandatory MIAMs have not resulted in any kind of increase in the use of mediation, which was earlier thought that it would. There are several exemptions which have automatically permitted an MIAM, based on the fact that the process of mediation would be considered inappropriate for the couple in question. There are some logical exceptions as well which are as follows –

1. An allegation of domestic violence in the past 12 months where the whereabouts of one ex-spouse are unknown.

2. Any delay caused by attending an MIAM would result in major damage to a child

3. A noteworthy risk of a miscarriage of justice or unreasonable hardship

There are many examples which justify these situations because of which, the couples have started skipping MIAMs. They have started thinking that the mediation process would be either pointless or unethical. This is the reason why there is just one obvious solution for this issue that the process of mediation should be made compulsory, which would be a sensible as well.