Under current legislation, in most situations, if you are seeking a court order over certain types of family matter you must first have a mediation meeting. The proceedings concerned include family finance, property and arrangements for children.
If both partners feel mediation would work for them, it is possible to have joint MIAMs. Otherwise, separate meetings can be held with each partner.
At the MIAM, a trained family mediator will explain to you how the mediation process works. The mediator then assesses how well-suited your particular issues are to mediation.
If it is felt that mediation could be suitable, you and your ex-partner will be asked whether you want to go ahead.
The mediation would involve a series of meetings with both of you, to try to find an amicable resolution over the matters in dispute.
At MIAM, as well as explaining mediation, advisors will also look at other forms of proceeding which might help, such as negotiations between solicitors.
You will also be given information about resources and organisations which might be of use to you, such as counselling and debt advice.
There are charges for mediation, but people on very low incomes could qualify for free sessions.