New mediation form available from 1 December 2012
On 1 December 2012 the Ministry of Justice launched a new version of the Family Mediation Information and Assessment Form (FM1). The form should be completed by anyone applying to the Courts for assistance in resolving a dispute about parenting or finances following relationship breakdown.
This requirement forms part of the Pre-Application Protocol for Private Law Proceedings, issued by the President of the Family Division in April 2011. This asks that parties involved in disputes of this nature attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to learn about mediation before making an application to the Courts.
A Self-Represented Litigant, their legal representative, or an accredited family mediator trained to carry out a MIAM, must sign the relevant section(s) of the form confirming that either an exemption applies, mediation is not suitable or mediation was attempted but failed. The form should be filed at court on application.
Legal and mediation practitioners are reminded of the need to advise their clients – potential applicants and respondents - of the current requirements.
To support the launch of the revised form, Guidance for HMCTS has been provided to assist court officers in processing private law applications and to provide advice on what to do if an applicant has not completed form FM1. While there is at present no legal requirement to file form FM1 on application we anticipate a more robust approach across the Courts in implementing the requirements of the Pre-Application Protocol.
Changes to form FM1
Changes to the form include highlighting the requirement for Part 2 of the form to be signed off by an accredited mediator, one who is affiliated to one of the Member Organisations of the Family Mediation Council and trained to carry out MIAMs. This will, we believe, help to direct potential clients to quality mediation services.
The Form also now includes notes and information about mediation, for the benefit of Self-Representing Parties. Links are included to the Family Mediation Service Finder, legal aid information and the recently launched Sorting Out Separation web app.
Changes to the form have been brought about following collaboration between the Ministry and the Family Mediation Steering Group, HMCTS and the Family Procedure Rule Committee.
The primary aim of the changes is to encourage more people to consider mediation and other types of out of court resolution. This comes as part of wider plans to reform the family justice system, following the Family Justice Review which concluded in November 2011.
- The Pre Application Protocol was launched with the President’s Practice Direction 3a in April 2011 and set out a requirement for parties to consider mediation before issuing a private law family application in relation to children arrangements or finances following divorce or separation. The Practice Direction can be accessed here.
- Form FM1 will be available on the HMCTS Form Finder - as before:
- Individual Member Organisations (MOs) of the Family Mediation Council have service finders – the MOs can be found at:
- The Family Mediation Service Finder is accessible at: http://www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk/find-service.php
- The recently launched Sorting Out Separation web app provides information on services that may be of help to separating and separated parents and couples. The app includes an Action Plan tool which takes the user through their key issues and signposts them to relevant support services.