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A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is part of the legal process in England and Wales, specifically related to family law matters. In April 2014, the UK government introduced a requirement for those seeking to take certain family law disputes to court to attend a MIAM first. The purpose of the MIAM is to provide information about alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, as a means to resolve issues outside of the court system.
During the MIAM, a qualified mediator speaks with each party in the dispute (usually a separating or divorcing couple) to explain the mediation process and explore whether mediation might be a suitable option for resolving their issues. The mediator will assess whether mediation is appropriate and safe in the circumstances.
The MIAM was introduced to encourage parties to consider mediation before going to court, as mediation can often be a less adversarial and more cost-effective way to resolve disputes, especially in family-related matter
If any party is exempt from the MIAM or if mediation is not successful, then either party can progress to making an application to the court
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Practice Directions 3A Family Mediation and the MIAM
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
STEP 2: The Form A Application
The Form A application is a specific form used in family law matters to make an application to the family court for a financial remedy after marriage and separation/divorce. It is officially known as 'Form A: Give notice of your intention to proceed with an application for a financial order.'

You can apply for an order to determine how to divide assets including:

  • pensions
  • property
  • savings
  • investments

Prior to applying with a Form A, the parties must have submitted an application for divorce and usually would need to have a Conditional Order.

As part of the application the court will ask for your marriage certificate.

Form A Application
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STEP 3: Disclosures
The court will send a directions letter to each party inviting them to the First Appointment. As part of the directions, litigants in person will need to complete full and frank financial disclosures and to complete a number of required actions before the First Appointment.
To complete the Form E: Statement of Financial Disclosure
To then file and serve:
  • Questionnaire: Questions with respect to the disclosures can be asked of each party.
  • Chronology
  • Issues Paper
  • Form H - Estimate of Costs
  • ES1 - Composite Case Summary
  • ES2 - Composite Asset Schedule
  • Form G
The directions letter will provide the timetable and framework for the completion of each document. It is crucially important to follow the instructions of the court.
The Form ES1: This is a composite case summary providing a basic overview of the case and finances of both parties. The form should be submitted by the applicant and updated. It should be filed with the court 1 day before the First Appointment, No later than 7 days before the FDR and no later than 7 days before the Final Hearing.
The Form ES2: Correct Use of Form ES2
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Form E Notes
Financial Remedies Court: The Way Ahead Report Part1
Financial Remedies Court: The Way Ahead Report Part 2
STEP 4: The First Appointment
The first appointment should be set between 12-16 weeks from the application and is held by a District Judge. The appointment is usually set for 1hr by attendance or HMTC CVP (Common Video Platform).
The main purpose is to determine:
  • whether the parties have followed the directions given by the court.
  • each of the parties issues paper.
  • whehter further information might be needed through the answering of questions
  • whether further documents and disclosures are needed.
  • consider whether mediationmy be appropriate
  • to provide any new directions for the next hearing the FDRH (Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing)

PLEASE NOTE: The First Appointment is NOT about litigation and arguing each other position. There are no corss examinations or tsting of any evidence. The aim is to tendure that parties have made full and frank disclosures, to iron out any problems around providing and exchanging disclosures and to ensure that the case and paperwork is at an acceptable standard to progress to the second appointment.

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STEP 5: Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDRA)
Arguably, the Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment, is one of the most important hearings. The purpose of this hearing is for a Judge to read the bundle and to then provide a non-binding and non-enforceable indication of a likely outcome if the matter was to go to a Final Hearing. The aim is to try and reolve matters with agreement without the need to going to a Final Hearing.

Here's an overview of what happens during a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment:

  • Purpose: The primary goal of the FDR is to encourage both parties to negotiate and reach a voluntary agreement on the division of assets, property, debts, and financial arrangements for any children involved not resolved via the CMS.
  • A Judge presides over the hearing. The hearing is usually set for 1 hr, however, the parties may negotiate within the court building, usually in private consultation rooms for as long as they feel as necessary.
  • The judge's role is to to assist the parties in finding common ground and narrowing down the issues in dispute. The judge may give an indication of how they view the case's strengths and weaknesses, which can help both parties reassess their positions and reach a settlement. The Judge will give an indication of how they may resolve the case if they were to be the judge at the Final Hearing.
  • Negotiations: After the judge's guidance, both parties have the opportunity to engage in negotiations. They may discuss settlement proposals and try to reach an agreement that meets the needs and interests of all involved parties.
  • Mediation: In some cases, the judge may suggest mediation or further attempts at negotiation with the help of a neutral mediator to facilitate communication and compromise.
  • Binding Agreement: If an agreement is reached during the FDR, the the Judge can produce a Final Order on consent.
  • Next Steps: If a settlement is not reached during the FDR, the case will proceed to a final hearing, where the court will make a binding decision on the financial matters based on the evidence presented.
  • The Judge at the FDRA cannot be the Judge at the Final Hearing. No notes or comments from the FDRA can be transferred or used at the Final Hearing.

As a reminder, the FDR is a significant opportunity to resolve financial disputes amicably, reducing the need for a lengthy and costly trial. However, if an agreement cannot be reached during the FDR, the court will step in to make a decision, taking into account the individual circumstances of the case.

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STEP 6: The Final Hearing
The Final Hearing in the context of a Financial Remedy Family Court is the last resort where a judge will make decisions on the parties financial matters. Both parties present their respective cases and provide evidence to support their claims. This may involve presenting financial disclosure, including information about income, assets, and liabilities.

During the Final Hearing, the judge will consider all the evidence presented by both parties. The judge's primary objective is to achieve a fair and equitable distribution of assets and financial support (if applicable) based on the individual circumstances of the case and the relevant legal principles.

After considering all the evidence and arguments, the judge will issue a court order outlining the financial arrangements that both parties must adhere to. This court order is legally binding and enforceable.

Prior to the Final Hearing the parties, if required to do so will need to:

  • Submit a court bundle
  • FIle and serve a narrative statement setting out your case and addressing the criteria under s.25 MCA 1973
  • Submit any previous open and without prejudice offers;
  • Arrang for any witnesses to be present if required;
  • Consider if they need the support of a Qualified Legal Representative.
  • Calculating costs schedules (Form H).

We strongly suggest that every McKenzie Friend should seek the assistance of a Trusted and Trained McKenzie Friend from the McKenzie Friend UK Network.

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The General Principles
  • The starting point of the division of assetts is 50/50. This can be deviated from according to needs and fairness. Known as the Sharing Principle:

    The sharing principle is that that the matrimonial pot will be divided equally between the parties unless there is a good reason to depart, such as one party's needs not being met on an equal division

  • The needs of any child is the highest priority.
  • On making any decisions, the court MUST apply the Section 25 Factors.
  • All decisions are made on balance of probability.
  • It is an irrebutable truth that you don't need paid lawyers in the family court.
  • Financial needs can be divided broadly into capital need and income needs. Capital needs are most often for a home, furnishings and a car. Income needs is the amount of money each party requires to live on each month.

When considering the appropriate division of a couple’s financial resources upon divorce, the court takes into account the factors listed in s 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This includes “the conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it” (s 25(2)(g)). We look at the case law around conduct.


The test for this was established in the Supreme Court decision in Sharland v Sharland [2016] AC 871. 

Where Baroness Hale at paragraphs 32-33 held:

… But this is a case of fraud. … A party who has practised deception with a view to a particular end, which has been attained by it, cannot be allowed to deny its materiality. Furthermore, the court is in no position to protect the victim from the deception, or to conduct its statutory duties properly, because the court too has been deceived.

The only exception is where the court is satisfied that, at the time when it made the consent order, the fraud would not have influenced a reasonable person to agree to it, nor, had it known then what it knows now, would the court have made a significantly different order, whether or not the parties had agreed to it. But in my view, the burden of satisfying the court of that must lie with the perpetrator of the fraud. It was wrong in this case to place on the victim the burden of showing that it would have made a difference.’

In P v P [2022] EWFC 158, DDJ David Hodson considered the costs position where the court was concerned with the sharing principle yet one party’s costs were significantly higher than the other.
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Philip Kedge is a retired police Chief Inspector and the founder and director of the McKenzie Friend UK Network. His aim is to take family court matters out of the hands of lawyers with an ethical business to reduce conflict and acrimony, to provide access to cost effective McKenzie Friend national services, to offer training and to reduce the emotional harm to children.
Phil is the founder of the National
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