Family Law Changes 2014; The New Form FM1 and the new Form C100
We have attached as downloads below, copies of the new Form A (application for Financial Orders after Divorce), Form C100 (the main application for Children Orders) and FM1 (the stand alone form to be completed by a Mediatior after a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting/ MIAM/ Mediation Information Meeting/Mediation Awareness Meeting)
The Originals and may others can be found and are free to download at HM Court Service Form Finder Tool which is at; http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/FormFinder.do
Notes about Mediation on the New Form A
We have reproduced in Green italics, the Notes from the New Form A. Our comments are in normal type are in black. We have emboldened important sections.
Mediation is generally a better option to going to Court, but must be supported by Legal Advice.
General information for completing this form
1. You need to complete this form if you want to ask the court to make a Financial Order. You must tick the relevant box on page 1 to indicate which type of order(s) you are applying for.
2. Pages 1 to 3 set out the core information you need to provide if you wish to make an application to the court. You or your solicitor must also sign and date the Section 5 of this form.
3. If you are applying for an order by consent you should tick the box on page 1 to make this clear and attach the draft order with this application
Requirement to attend a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting
4. It is now a legal requirement that, unless an exemption applies, a person who wishes to apply to court for a financial order must first attend a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM). At the stage before proceedings the other party (the respondent) is expected to attend either the same MIAM or a separate MIAM.
5. At the MIAM, a trained family mediator will give you (the applicant) and the other person if present (the respondent) information about family mediation and other types of non-court dispute resolution. They will consider with you whether non-court dispute resolution would be an appropriate way to resolve the dispute. It is then for the applicant and respondent to decide whether or not to do so.
There it is; there is a legal requirement for the Applicant to attend a MIAM. The Respondent is also expected to attend.
6. The requirement for the applicant to attend a MIAM does not apply if a financial order is being applied for and the other person (respondent) is in agreement about what you are asking the court to order (the order is a “consent order”).
7. You or your solicitor must tick the relevant box in Section 2 of this form so that the court knows whether the MIAM requirement applies, whether an exemption applies (and why) or whether you have attended a MIAM.
MIAM exemptions and MIAM attendance
8. As the applicant you are expected to have contacted an authorised family mediator in order to make arrangements to attend a MIAM unless :
• the MIAM requirement does not apply for the reason explained at paragraph 6 of these notes, or
• you are claiming a MIAM exemption, or a family mediator certifies that a mediator’s exemption applies.
9. You can find an authorised family mediator by using the ‘Find your local mediator’ search facility available at: www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk
Ian Walker is an Authorised Mediator. We are also contracted with the Legal Aid Agency to offer Legally Aided Family Mediation. We are currently undertaking MIAM Meetings in Honiton, Exeter and Taunton.
10. You should give the mediator the contact details of the other person so that the family mediator can contact them to check their willingness to attend a MIAM. If the other persons (or none of the other persons if there is more than one respondent) are unwilling to attend a MIAM this is a ground for the family mediator to exempt you from attending a MIAM.
11. If you or your solicitor believe that you have grounds for claiming exemption from MIAM attendance you or your solicitor must tick the relevant box in Section 2 of this form and complete Section 3.
12. If a family mediator wishes to certify that a mediator’s exemption applies, so that you do not need to attend a MIAM, you must ask the family mediator to complete Section 4a of this form and sign it where shown.
13. If you have attended a MIAM you must ask the family mediator who conducted the MIAM to complete Section 4b of this form and sign it where shown.
14. If you claim a MIAM exemption and make an application to the court, the court will inquire into the grounds for exemption. The court may ask you to produce written evidence (see Section 3 of this form for details against each exemption shown).
15. If the court determines that the exemption was not validly claimed it may direct you, or you and the other party, to attend a MIAM and, if the case has already progressed to the first hearing, may adjourn the case to enable you to make arrangements to attend a MIAM.
16. The detailed procedure relating to the MIAM requirement and MIAM exemptions and attendance is set out in Part 3 of the Family Procedure Rules and in supporting Practice Direction 3A (judicial guidance). These are available online at: www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/family/practice_directions/pd_part_03a
Paying for MIAM attendance or for family mediation
17. Legal aid is available for MIAMs and for family mediation. If you are eligible for legal aid you could receive both the MIAM and mediation sessions free of charge, as well as some advice from a solicitor to support you in the mediation process.
18. If you, or the prospective respondent, is eligible for Legal Aid then the total cost of MIAM attendance can be met by the Legal Aid Agency, whether you and the prospective respondent attend the same MIAM or separate MIAMs.
19. If neither you nor the respective respondent is eligible for Legal Aid then the mediator will agree with you how the cost of MIAM attendance is to be met.
20. See paragraph 28 below You can find out whether you are eligible for Legal Aid by using the calculator tool available at www.gov.uk/legal-aid
Safety and MIAM attendance
21. Please note: the family mediator will discuss with you and with the other person whether you wish to attend the MIAM separately or together. Family mediators have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all concerned and will always check with each of you that attending together is your individual choice and is safe.
Ian Walker is also Accredited by Resolution as an expert in domestic abuse. We take this aspect of the meetings very seriously. If there has been abusive behaviour, it may still be possible for mediation to take place. See our earlier post on safety and mediation. One way to do this is to have a meeting which includes the parties Solicitors.
Information about mediation
22. If suitable, mediation can be a better way of resolving issues about financial arrangements when you or your partner petition for a matrimonial or civil partnership order. Mediation can be less expensive than going to court and much less stressful for all the family.
23. Family Mediation is an impartial process that involves an independent third person who assists both parties involved in a family dispute to reach a resolution. Family mediation can be used to settle any or all of the following issues:
• Financial arrangements and dividing up property
• Arrangements for children
• Any combination of these
• Any other disputes to do with separation and divorce.
24. The family mediator helps the process of negotiation between the parties to agree their own arrangements by way of a Memorandum of Understanding. You can ask a solicitor, if you have one, to check the Memorandum of Understanding.
25. If both parties agree, you can ask the court to endorse what you have agreed by issuing a consent order. The mediator will help you to decide whether your case is complicated and does in fact need the court to consider your situation and make an order. The mediator should also tell you about other local services and options for resolving your dispute.
Further information and sources of help
26. General information about family mediation is available from the Family Mediation Council website at: www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk
27. The family mediator who undertakes the MIAM for you must be a member of a national mediation organisation which adheres to the Family Mediation Council’s Code of Conduct and the mediator must be authorised to conduct MIAMs. The service finder will help you find such a local mediator.
Ian Walker is a member of the Law Society, FMA and Resolution. We offer Legal Aid and are Mediating in Honiton Taunton and Exeter at the moment.
28. You can find out more about legal aid for family matters, including whether you may eligible for legal aid on the Legal Aid Information Service on the Gov.UK site at: www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid or you can telephone the Civil Legal Advice direct helpline 0345 345 4345.
29. For general advice on separation services and options for resolving disputes:
30. For help with taking a case to court without a lawyer, the Personal Support Unit: www.thepsu.org/
31. For guidance on representing yourself at court, including a list of commonly used terms that you may come across: www.barcouncil.org.uk/ instructing-a-barrister/representing-yourself-incourt/
32. For advice about finding and using a family law solicitor see: Law Society www.lawsociety.org.uk, and Resolution (family law solicitors): www.resolution.org.uk
33. For advice about finding using a family law barrister: see www.barcouncil.org.uk/about-the-bar/find-abarrister/ and for arrangements for using a barrister directly see www.barcouncil.org.uk/instructing-abarrister/public-access/