Initiating Separation in Ontario Family Court
The Mandatory Information Program (MIP) & the Family Law Information Program (FLIP)
When you begin a proceeding in family court, you may be required to attend a Mandatory Information Program (MIP) session. The MIP is mandatory for parties who have any contested issues relating to separation and divorce, such as issues relating to custody, access, support, the matrimonial home, or net family property.
If your only claim is for divorce or costs, or if the matters are all proceeding on consent (which means that you and your spouse agree on everything), then a MIP session is not required. Otherwise, both parties in the family court proceeding must attend a MIP session.
What Is the MIP?
The MIP is intended as a first step for new Applicants and Respondents in family court. It is a two-hour session that provides attendees with information about the family court system and process, local community resources and programs, common issues facing family law litigants, alternatives to litigation, and the effects of separation and divorce on the parties and their children. In general, the MIP helps encourage parties to settle where possible.
The session usually takes place in the same court in which the Application was filed. Both spouses must attend their MIP sessions before the matter can come before a judge, but the parties do not attend the MIP session together—it is not a mediation session. You and your partner will be given separate MIP dates.
Scheduling your MIP Session
When the Applicant files the Application in court, the clerk will give the Applicant two notices: one indicating their MIP date and one for the Respondent indicating the Respondent’s MIP date. The Applicant must provide that MIP Notice to the Respondent. If you are the Respondent in your divorce proceeding and you are concerned for your safety because your partner knows your MIP date and location, you can reschedule your MIP session. You can also alert security at the courthouse.
Both parties must complete their MIP session within 45 days of the case being commenced.
To schedule or reschedule a MIP, call the Family Law Office of the applicable court. Note that it is possible to reschedule your MIP so that it takes place at a different courthouse, if there is a more convenient court location for you to attend. Phone numbers for the Family Law branches for courts in Ontario can be found by clicking here.
After you attend your MIP, the person who conducts the session will complete your certificate of attendance (found on the back of your notice). You must file it with the court as soon as possible, and at least 2 days before your first case conference.
The Family Law Information Program (FLIP)
The Family Law Information Program (FLIP) is an online information program, created by family law lawyers at Legal Aid Ontario, whose content is based on the MIP. It is an interactive online program, made up of both written text and audio files, available to all members of the public.
Like the MIP, the FLIP was designed to provide information on the legal and practical issues facing spouses whose relationship is breaking down, and to give an overview of the court system and options for dispute resolution. Any spouse facing issues relating to support, child custody, parenting arrangements, property division, or other related issues can find pertinent information in the FLIP.
The FLIP can also in some circumstances be used as an alternative to the MIP. With a judge’s permission, spouses can complete the FLIP online and obtain a certificate of completion rather than attend a MIP session in person.
Using the FLIP
The FLIP can be accessed from the Legal Aid Ontario homepage, where you will find a link at the bottom of the page titled “Family Law Information Program.”
The FLIP system has two options for completion. Those interested in accessing the material for their information can use the “Quick Read” option; those using the program as a substitute for the MIP session should select the “Certificate of Completion” option.
It will take approximately two hours to complete all the material, but users do not have to complete it all at once.
If you need guidance, advice, or representation at any stage of your separation or divorce, Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. is here to help. Call our Ontario family lawyers at (905) 581-7222 to learn more.