"The court case Canadian poly families have been waiting for"
Canada's queer news site Daily Xtra reports in depth on the outcome of an ugly, contentious case with a good outcome.
The court case Canadian poly families have been waiting for
Three BC judges say polyamorous relationships are not harmful to children
Can family law handle multiple parents? Indiana Joel / Daily Xtra
By Niko Bell
In a series of three rulings over three years, a [British Columbia] Supreme Court justice and two provincial court judges have decided a polyamorous man in Nanaimo is fit to be a father, even if he has more than one romantic partner.
This is the first Canadian family law case to centre around the legitimacy of polyamorous parents.
The lawyer for the children’s mother tried to use Canada’s law against polygamy to argue that polyamorous relationships are intrinsically harmful to women and children, and accused the father of inflicting emotional pain on his children.
All three judges disagreed.
On Feb 23, 2016, the father received a final ruling establishing that he can continue to share equal parenting time with the mother of his children.
The judge also found the father’s relationship style is irrelevant to his abilities as a parent, and that his other relationships are actually valuable to caring for his children.
One legal expert says the case could be an important guide for future legal treatment of polyamorous families in Canada; another says it reveals problematic flaws in how courts treat family cases.
...The details of Paul and Sarah’s case are laid out in three judgments, from June 2013 to February 2016.
...“There is no evidence that being raised in a polyamorous family has had a negative effect,” [Judge Ronald Lamperson] writes. “The evidence is that both boys are well-adjusted and happy and have good friends who sometimes stay over.”
Moreover, he says, the close relationships Sarah’s children have with Theresa and Clara are reasons for them to stay in the family, not to leave.
Like Saunders, he found Sarah was equally responsible for any violence, that it was not serious, and that it was unlikely to happen again.
Angela and her little brother, Lamperson ruled, will stay in Nanaimo with their father, who will parent them half of the time. The case was over.
As a BC provincial court case, Paul’s trial has little power to set precedent, says legal scholar John-Paul Boyd, who is also executive director of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family. But that doesn’t make it insignificant, he says.
Judges in future, he says, are still likely to be guided by the example.
“You do have three separate judges who did not reach the conclusion, although they were invited to do so, that there is anything inherently harmful about children living with adults in a polyamorous relationship,” Boyd says.
“Here are these beautiful, beautiful trial decisions where the judges don’t descend into any moral opprobrium. It makes me so proud to be Canadian.”
...Paul still lives in Nanaimo, where he raises his three boys and one girl with Clara and Theresa.
Since the trial ended, he says, he and Sarah have made some amends, and they focus the best they can on taking care of their children.
Mostly, he’s happy to be done with the oppositional court system.
“The court process is just so hard,” he says. “Some days we’d be in family court on a Monday, which is family day. It was just rapid fire in the morning, going through a million orders. And I’m sitting there, feeling like I’m fighting to be a dad. And meanwhile, you see families there where dad didn’t bother to show up, or didn’t do this or that. They’re trying to force fathers to be fathers. And there I am, begging to be one.”
Read the whole article (September 20, 2016). Names have been changed.