What Mandatory Information Program(MIP)
The Mandatory Information Program (“MIP”) is typically the first step after a case is filed in the family court. MIP sessions are free and are used to provide the divorcing couple with information about separation and the legal process. MIP sessions generally take place at the courthouse where the application is filed and the session is typically one hour long if the divorcing couple does not have children and two hours long if they do.
Rule 8.1 of the Family Law Rules deals with MIPs and highlights various topics that can be covered during the sessions, which can include:
1. The options available for resolving disputes, including alternatives to going to court;
2. The impact the separation has on children;
3. The family court process; and
4. Resources available to deal with problems that arise from separation.
When one of the divorcing spouses files an application with the court, the court clerk will schedule both parties to attend two different MIPs because the spouses do not attend the same session. The party who filed the application will then receive a notice for their own MIP session and a notice for the spouse’s MIP session as well. It is up to the spouse filing the application to ensure that the other party’s MIP notice is served to them alongside the application.
Attendance at the MIP session is mandatory unless the parties are exempt, and the divorcing couple must attend their scheduled sessions no later than 45 days after the case has started. If either or both parties do not attend the MIP session, the judge can make an order against them for failing to attend.
Once the parties have attended the MIP session, the person who conducted the program will provide a certificate of attendance, which must be filed no later than 2:00 PM two days before the first appearance or case conference.
Although MIP sessions are typically mandatory for all parties before they can proceed with their case, Rule 8.1 says that a person is not required to attend a MIP session if they fall under an exemption, some of which are listed below:
· They have already attended a MIP session for their case or any other case;
· Both parties agree on all matters in the case and are proceeding on consent;
· The only claims are for divorce, costs, or order incorporating the terms of an agreement or prior court order;
· The party is only bringing a motion to change a final court order relating to spousal or child support; or
· A judge grants a party permission to not attend a MIP because the circumstances are urgent or attending a MIP session would cause the party undue hardship.
We understand that going through a divorce can be a challenging time, especially when you and your spouse disagree on various issues. If you are looking for more information about Mandatory Information Programs and how to navigate the separation process, do not hesitate to contact us and one of our experienced Family Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.