On December 17, 2009, the Attorney General announced his commitment to improving the family justice system to make it faster, more affordable and less confrontational. These improvements are based on the following four pillars:
- More information up-front for families;
- A triage or intake approach that directs clients to appropriate and proportional services;
- Greater access to legal advice and alternatives to litigation; and
- Streamlined and simplified process for those cases that must go to court.
The Mandatory Information Program (known as MIP) has been chosen as the primary initiative to implement the first pillar. Ministry guidelines regarding MIP’s can be found by clicking here.
Attending and completing a MIP is a required step in the family court process. MIP’s are held at all family court locations across Ontario.
At the MIP you will be provided with information to help you make informed decisions about the steps you will take in the court process, including:
- The effects of separation and divorce on adults and children
- Alternatives to litigation
- Family law issues
- The Family Court process
- Local resources and programs for families facing separation and/or divorce
A copy of the MIP presentation slides can be found by clicking here.
If either spouse/parent has started a family court case, and it is contested, both spouses/parents must attend separate MIP’s as the first step in the case. There are some exceptions to this rule including:
- Parties in cases that are proceeding on consent (where both parties agree to the order that is being requested)
- Parties in cases in which the only claims made are for a divorce, costs, or an order incorporating the terms of an agreement or prior court order
- Parties who have already attended a MIP
- Parties whose matters only deal with changing child or spousal support provisions and/or who have attended a Motion to Change Seminar in lieu.
- Parties who obtain permission from the Judge that they do not have to attend (e.g. if attendance would cause them hardship).
MIP’s take approximately 2.5 hours to complete and delivered by local lawyers and Mental Health Professionals. MIP’s are delivered in each family court location on a schedule developed at the local level.
It is expected that you attend the MIP in person. If you cannot, you will need permission from the Judge hearing your case to be exempted. Your case generally cannot proceed beyond the Case Conference stage of the proceedings unless you have attended.
When the application or motion to change is filed, the court will schedule you and the other party to attend different MIP sessions, and provide you with MIP Notices. The applicant must serve the Respondent with his or her MIP Notice along with the other documents.
After you have attended the MIP session, your notice will be signed to confirm your attendance. Your signed notice must be filed in your court file before your next court date.
In Hamilton, Kitchener/Cambridge, Guelph, Brantford, Simcoe, Cayuga, St. Catharines and Welland the Information & Referral Coordinators are responsible for all aspects of the MIP’s. Their contact information can be found in the Team section of this website.
When you attend a MIP you will hear a wealth of information to assist you and your family, to navigate through the family court process. You will also be provided with a list of resources, which many find extremely helpful. For a copy of those Resources, please click here.