Glossary - Family Law

Mandatory Information Program

In Family Law

The Mandatory Information Program (MIP) is a program for partners who are separating or divorcing. It gives them information about:

  • family law issues
  • the family court process
  • how separation and divorce affects adults and children
  • ways to solve issues without going to court
  • local resources and programs

In most situations, both partners must attend an MIP before their court case can move forward. The MIP is available at all family court locations across Ontario.

marriage contract

In Family Law

A marriage contract, sometimes called a domestic contract, is a written contract that partners can make that says how they will deal with their issues while they are married, at the end of the marriage, or if one of them dies. They can make this kind of contract before they marry if they plan to marry, or after getting married. For example, a marriage contract can say how much spousal support one partner will pay the other if they separate. It cannot say who will have custody or access to any children.


In Family Law

To be married or to have a marriage means that 2 people of the same or opposite sex had a marriage ceremony with someone that has the legal power to marry them. A marriage ends only by divorce, annulment, or the death of one of the partners. Being separated is not the same as being divorced.

matrimonial home

In Debt and Consumer Rights, Family Law

The matrimonial home is the property that was usually used by married partners as their family home at the time they separated. There can be more than one matrimonial home. Common-law partners cannot have a matrimonial home.


In Child abuse and neglect, Domestic violence, Family Law

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where people who don’t agree on something meet with someone called a mediator. The mediator is a neutral person trained to help people agree on their issues without taking sides. The mediator’s goal is to help them find a solution that they agree on. A mediator does not make decisions or force anyone to agree to anything.

A mediator is sometimes also called a facilitator.


In Family Law

Mediation-arbitration is a process that tries to solve your legal issues without going to court. It combines the alternative dispute resolution processes of mediation and arbitration.

First, you and your partner meet with a neutral mediator, who is trained to help you agree on your issues without taking sides. Then, if you haven’t been able to reach an agreement with the mediator’s help, a neutral arbitrator decides what should happen. An arbitrator’s decision is called a family arbitration award.

You and your partner can decide if you want the same person to act as mediator and then, if necessary, as an arbitrator. Or, if you want different people to be the mediator and arbitrator.

minutes of settlement

In Child abuse and neglect, Domestic violence, Family Law

Minutes of Settlement is a document that describes how parties have decided to resolve their issues. For example, you can sign minutes of settlement with your partner or a Children’s Aid Society. It can be used to get a court order, called a consent order, that says what the parties have agreed to.


In Family Law

A motion is a court process a party uses to ask a judge to decide specific issues before a trial. 

motion to change

In Family Law

A motion to change is the court process you go through when you want a judge to change a court order or separation agreement that has been filed with the court. Sometimes a motion to change is also called a variation.

moving party

In Family Law

The moving party is the person asking the court to make an order after a motion.

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