Going through a separation or divorce is usually an emotionally draining process for you and your family. Many people seek help though the court process, often unaware there are other ways to resolve issues. The Mandatory Information Program (MIP) is a service at every court that offers information for parties involved in family law litigation. In most cases, litigants must complete the MIP before they are permitted to take further steps in the court proceedings.
The MIP is a two-hour session where important information about family law and the family court system is given. Here is what you should know about the MIP.
Free Service for Litigants
The MIP is a free service that outlines common issues facing family law litigants. Both you and the other party are given have the opportunity to learn about family law issues, the family court process, the effects of separation and divorce, local community resources and programs available to you and alternatives to court which may lessen the emotional burden on everyone involved. The effects of separation and divorce on the parties and their children can be very stressful. With the assistance of the MIP, you may find ways to settle your differences in a more amicable manner, which often results in much more satisfying outcomes for both parties. If you are involved in a family court action in Ontario, the MIP must be attended in most cases by all parties in the action.
Is Anyone Exempt from the MIP?
There are a few situations where you are exempt from attending the MIP:
- When both you and the other party agree to the order that is being requested;
- When the only claims made are for a divorce, costs, or an order incorporating the terms of an agreement or prior court order; or
- When you have already attended a MIP.
All other situations will require attendance.
The MIP takes place in the court where the application was filed. You and the other party are not expected to attend the same session. Instead, you will be given different appointments. MIPs are often confused with mediation sessions where both parties must be present. By offering separate appointments it is easier for you to focus, take in the information and ask questions to help you understand your rights and options.
Once an Application is filed in court, both parties will be receive a “MIP Notice”. If you are the “Applicant” in the case, you will receive your MIP Notice when your Application and other documents are filed. If you are the “Respondent” in your case, your MIP Notice will be served on you by the Applicant along with the Applicant’s Application and other documents that may have been filed to start the case. The MIP Notice will set out the date, time and location of the MIP you are required to attend. The MIP Notice will also contain additional information about the MIP, its purpose and other important information including a Certificate of Attendance which must be brought with you to the MIP.
If you cannot attend your MIP session, or have experienced family violence and are concerned about the other party knowing the date and time of your designated MIP session, you must contact the court as set out in the MIP Notice to arrange for a new date and/or time, or speak to your lawyer about doing so.
You can also arrange for a MIP session even you aren’t planning to file an application in court by contacting the family mediation and information service provider in your area to arrange to attend a MIP.
What to Expect at the MIP
A family lawyer and a family/parenting professional will typically present information to you at the MIP. You may also receive a package/information explaining the court process and community resources to take home. You will spend about two hours in the session depending on the presenters speaking and number of questions asked.
Please bring your copy of your MIP Notice to the MIP. The Certificate of Attendance at the end of the form will be stamped and returned to you at the end of the session. This form must then be filed with the court to show that you have attended the mandatory session. We can help you file your documents.
For help navigating the MIP or any other family law matters, contact Tenk Tatum first.