The Government’s protocol for couples before they issue court proceedings


To help those going through separation and divorce to become aware of mediation and other dispute resolution processes and help them understand how these might support and assist them, the Government has introduced the following protocol.

Before making an application to the court to resolve an issue in relation to your children and/ or with regard to the financial aspects of your divorce, you will be expected to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), to find out about alternative ways to resolve your dispute, and consider whether in fact your dispute may be capable of being resolved through mediation.

The Government is of the view that an adversarial court process is not always best-suited to the resolution of family disputes.  Such disputes are often more effectively resolved through discussion and agreement, where that can be managed safely and appropriately. This is particularly so with regard to disputes between parents relating to children; but also with regard to helping couples resolving financial and property matters when they separate or divorce.   The process of mediation can help some people reach a resolution where there is a family dispute.    Mediation aims to assist and support couples to communicate with one another now and in the future and to reduce the scope or intensity of dispute and conflict within the family.

Before therefore you make an application to the court either you, [or your solicitor], will need to contact an approved mediator to arrange to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting with them.    The mediator will need to be  provided with contact details for the other party to the dispute, so that the mediator can contact them to discuss their willingness and availability to also attend the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.   If you are willing to attend together, the meeting may be conducted jointly, but where necessary, or if you prefer, separate meetings can be held.

At the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting the mediator will explain to you:

  • What mediation is.
  • How mediation works and how mediation might work for you.
  • Other forms of problem solving assistance available to you, such as collaborative law and arbitration.

Kim Finnis offers a fixed charge for a MIAM which depends on whether you wish to attend individually, or together and this will be payable at the end of the meeting.    The fee for an individual MIAM is £180 [£150 plus VAT]  and  £270 for a joint MIAM  [£225 plus VAT].  Kim Finnis does not offer publicly funded MIAM’s or mediation.    If you would like details as to whether you are financially eligible for public funding or of approved mediators who offer public funding  -these are available on the following website  www.gov.uk.

If you would like to arrange to attend a MIAM please contact Kim Finnis Tel: 01483 539100 or email@ kim@kimfinnis.co.uk  You can also download the referral form.

If after having attended the Mediation Information and Assessment meeting you decide that you would like to try mediation, then you can book an appointment at a later convenient date.

If following the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting an application to the court in respect of the dispute is made, you will need to provide the court with a completed Family Mediation Information and Assessment Form (Form FM1) confirming attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, or giving the reasons for not attending. Depending on the circumstances of your case the FM1 either needs to be completed by the mediator and countersigned by you, or completed by you and countersigned by your solicitor (if you are represented)

The court will expect all those issuing applications to have complied with the Protocol before commencing proceedings and except where exceptional circumstances apply, as set out below, will expect any respondent to the application to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, if invited to do so.

If the matter should proceed to court at the first hearing the court will wish to know whether mediation has been considered by you and the other party.  In considering the conduct of any relevant family proceedings, the court will take into account any failure to comply with the Protocol and may refer you and the other party to a meeting with a mediator before the proceedings continue further.

What Exceptions Are There?

A person considering making an application to the court in relevant family proceedings is not expected to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before doing so certain circumstances apply, these include:

  1. The mediator is satisfied that mediation is not suitable, or has determined this in the past 4 months
  2. There are issues of domestic violence that have led to police investigations or civil proceedings in the last year
  3. Where finances are concerned one or other party is bankrupt
  4. There are child protection issues or an urgent court application is needed