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The All Families Are Equal Act

November 26, 2018

The All Families Are Equal Act (Parentage and Related Registrations Statute Law Amendment), 2016 (hereinafter the “All Families Are Equal Act”), came into force as January 1, 2017 and affects all births registered after that date.

According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, “the new law will:

  • Provide greater clarity and certainty for parents who use assisted reproduction to conceive a child
  • Provide a streamlined process for the legal recognition of parents who use a surrogate, together with requirements meant to protect the rights of all parties through independent legal advice and confirmation of the surrogate’s consent both before conception and after birth
  • Reduce the need for parents who use assisted reproduction to have to go to court to have their parental status recognized in law.”

The All Families are Equal Act changed approximately 41 statues, including the Children’s Law Reform Act, the Family Law Act, and the Vital Statistics Act. Part of the basis for the new legislation was to try to ensure that all children are treated the same, regardless of how they are conceived.

The implications of the All Families Are Equal Act are extensive and cannot be comprehensively dealt with in a short blog.

One aspect of the amendments to the statutes is that a birth parent will no longer have more legal rights than a non-birth parent. Further, multiparent families (up to four parents) can be recognized on a child’s birth certificate, which is far simpler than having to go to court to obtain a declaration of parentage.

Being recognized as a parent means that one has all the legal rights and obligations that biological parents have. The importance of that status includes the following rights:

  • Ability to fully participate in the child’s life;
  • Determines lineage;
  • Insures the child will inherit on intestacy (dying without a will);
  • Ability to obtain OHIP cards, social insurance numbers, airline tickets, passports etc.
  • Ability to register the child in school.

If there is a breakdown of the relationship, a non-biological parent will have all the same legal rights and obligations as a birth parent. This includes the ability to make claims for custody/access, and for support. Conversely, a birth parent can also look to a non-birth parent for child support (however there was already the ability to seek support from someone who is in loco parentis (stands in place of a parent).

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