As a family lawyer I would not encourage anyone to enter into the Court process lightly. If, when working with a client, we reach the point of considering taking a matter to Court I will always have tried to resolve a matter amicably.
However, sometimes it becomes clear that it may not be possible to resolve matters without the third party involvement of the Court. This may be due to one party having unrealistic expectations of an outcome, or perhaps one party is refusing to engage in the negotiation process at all.
Rather than continue wasting further costs and time with correspondence which is not achieving anything, there comes a point at which consideration needs to be given as to the benefits of taking a matter to Court providing a third party involvement and a timetable that needs to be followed by both parties.
In April 2014 legislation came into force which necessitated all parties who are considering entering the Court process for the purpose of a family law matter – finances or children related issues – having to obtain a MIAMS certificate before proceeding to Court.
The MIAMS certificate confirms that the person applying to the court has undertaken a meeting with a qualified mediator.
The meeting is known as a ‘family mediation information and assessment meeting’. This is not the same as having to attend mediation with your partner – all that MIAMS means is that both parties have received information about the process of mediation and have considered the suitability of mediation as a means of resolving their dispute.
It can be frustrating for a client to learn that after having spent some time trying to resolve a matter amicably and just as they realise that taking the matter to Court has become inevitable they then have to attend a meeting in order to obtain a MIAMS certificate and that there is a charge for this meeting. The legislation was introduced to ensure that all parties enter the Court process fully informed as to the alternatives open to them.
There is no better outcome than an amicable resolution to a matter and if this can be achieved by attending a MIAMS meeting then that has to be a positive result.
But when it is very clear that the involvement of the Court is the only way forward obtaining the MIAMS certificate is a final check to ensure that there is no possibility of an immediate agreement between the parties involved.
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