Can a Child Have Three Parents? In Ontario, Yes

January 19, 2007 Hull & Hull LLP Ethical Issues Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

A.A. v. B.B. and C.C., a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, caused quite a ripple in the media. 

See articles in The National Post  and The Toronto Star, .

The case dealt with the parentage of a five-year-old boy whose biological father and mother, plus the mother’s spouse (the “spouse”) with whom she had been in a long-term same-sex relationship, all agreed that the spouse ought to be legally recognized as the boy’s mother.

At the trial level, the Judge found that the Court had no jurisdiction to make a Declaration mandating that recognition.

The Court of Appeal overruled the trial decision, finding that the Court’s parens patriae jurisdiction allowed it to grant the Declaration. Parens patriae is an inherent jurisdiction the Court can apply to rescue a child in danger or bridge a legislative gap. The Court used parens patriae on the basis that the applicable legislation, Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act, did not contemplate this situation and therefore had a gap.

Interest groups argued unsuccessfully against the Declaration, while both biological parents and the spouse all wanted it granted.

In any case, the boy now has two mothers and a father.

It will be interesting to see what happens when a biological parent objects to such a request. Presumably, all three parents must provide child support, not only during their lifetimes but also on death if they fail to provide for the boy in their Wills.

Thanks for reading.

Sean Graham

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