More on Canadian ruling for a child having three poly parents
Here's the basic story if you missed it, this time as told Thursday in the Toronto Star:
Three adults in polyamorous relationship declared legal parents of child
By Michael MacDonald | The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — In what is believed to be a legal first in Canada, a court in Newfoundland and Labrador has recognized three unmarried adults as the legal parents of a child born within their “polyamorous” family.
Polyamorous relationships are legal in Canada, unlike bigamy and polygamy, which involve people in two or more marriages.
In this case, the St. John’s family includes two men in a relationship with the mother of a child born in 2017.
“Society is continuously changing and family structures are changing along with it,” says the decision, by Justice Robert Fowler of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court’s family division.
“This must be recognized as a reality and not as a detriment to the best interests of the child.”
The April 4 decision says the unconventional family has been together for three years, but the biological father of the child is unknown. The family members are not identified in the decision, which was released Thursday by the court.
It’s not the first time a Canadian court has recognized that a family can have three legally recognized parents. In 2007, for example, the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized two women in relationship as the mothers of a child whose biological father was already deemed a legal parent. But the three adults in that case were not in a relationship.
The three people in the Newfoundland case turned to the courts after the province said only two parents could be listed on the child’s birth certificate.
Lawyers for the province’s attorney general argued that the provincial Children’s Law Act does not allow for more than two people to be named as the legal parents of a child.
The lawyer for the family, Tracy Bannier, said the law has not kept up with changes in Canadian society.
“It wasn’t that the legislation was specifically prohibiting any child from having more than two parents,” she said in an interview Thursday. “It’s just that the legislators at the time simply didn’t consider a family structure with more than two parents. Because it didn’t prohibit it, there was a gap in the legislation.”
In his decision, Fowler said his decision hinged on what was in the best interests of the child.
Fowler said the child was born into a stable, loving family that has provided a safe and nurturing environment.
When the Children’s Law Act was introduced about 30 years ago, he said, it did not contemplate the “now complex family relationships that are common and accepted in our society.”
The judge said it was clear the legislation was aimed at assuring equal status for all children, but he agreed that the law included an unintentional gap that acts against the best interests of children born into polyamorous relationships.
“I have no reason to believe that this relationship detracts from the best interests of the child,” Fowler’s decision says.
“On the contrary, to deny the recognition of fatherhood (parentage) by the applicants would deprive the child of having a legal paternal heritage with all the rights and privileges associated with that designation.”
Toronto-based lawyer Adam Black said the most significant legal implications of this case will arise when polyamorous relationships break down.
“How do we use the current model to resolve the issues that arise when there are three parents, particularly with respect to issues of property and support — the financial side of the breakdown?” said Black, a partner in the family law group at Torkin Manes LLP.
“For me, this is very much uncharted waters. It’s a new frontier in family law. ... The legislature may need to turn its mind to these issues to have the legislation keep pace with the evolution of what a family looks like today,” Black said, adding that the Ontario legislature modified some legislation last year with the All Families are Equal Act.
“There’s seems to be a bit of appetite for these types of changes,” he said.
The original story in the Star (June 14). Same story on the CBC. En Français.
● The news prompted a widely reprinted, very basic Poly 101 from the same reporter, who seemed new to the concept — and who couldn't think to find a better picture than the Mormon polygamists whom the text says are not about polyamory. Hey, Journalism 101?! To not confuse your readers, run a picture of what the story is about, not what the story says it's not about!
Five things you need to know about polyamory
By Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press (agency)
...It was believed to be a legal first in Canada. However, many Canadians were left with one big question: What does polyamorous mean? Here’s five things you need to know:
1. There is no definitive definition, but there are a few basic principles.... There’s an added dimension that typically involves a high degree of openness and trust about the voluntary arrangement....
2. Polyamorous relationships have nothing to do with bigamy or polygamy. ... Last July, two men in British Columbia were found guilty of polygamy. Winston Blackmore, 62, was married to two dozen women, while James Oler, 54, was found to have married five women. Both are leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bountiful, B.C.
That picture: Winston Blackmore and wives.
(The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/2008)
Boyd said these arranged marriages were part of a patriarchal structure that led to “serious, negative social effects within that community.”
“They were mandated by God and there’s no pretence of equality,” he said. “And it’s mandatory.”
By contrast, polyamorous relationships are voluntary.
“The key is that whatever (polyamorous) relationships look like, they are consensual,” he said. “Everybody knows what’s going on. Honesty and transparency are at the core of it all.”
Boyd said his research has found that among those who consider themselves polyamorous, there’s a heavy emphasis on equality, regardless of gender, sexual identity and parenting status.
3. We really have no idea how many people are polyamorous, but there has been some fascinating research. ...
4. Polyamory is not just another term for what “swingers” do. ...Polyamorous relationships emphasize emotional and egalitarian aspects, while swingers focus on sexual non-monogamy and emotional monogamy.
That said, a polyamorous person may engage in swinging, while swingers sometimes develop emotional bonds with their sexual partners.
5. Children are frequently part of polyamorous families. The data compiled from Boyd’s 2016 survey showed that 40 per cent of respondents said there were children living in their homes full- or part-time. ...
Still, the recent case in Newfoundland and Labrador drew attention to the fact that the law hasn’t kept up with the evolution of Canadian families. ... In his decision, Justice Robert Fowler of the provincial supreme court said: “Society is continuously changing and family structures are changing along with it. This must be recognized as a reality and not as a detriment to the best interests of the child.”
● Religious conservatives weighed in, including in the US. For instance, in The World, The Rise of Polyamorous Parenting (June 15)
By Kiley Crossland
...Neither the court nor the polyamorous triad acknowledged that a DNA paternity test could easily identify the biological father. Fowler instead said that denying “dual paternal parentage” would not be in the child’s best interest. ... The Canadian triad intends to raise the child without knowledge of his or her biological father, a goal that will likely prove impossible as the child grows up and starts to look like one of the two men. ...
● The polyfamily in the case remains anonymous. But the story brought attention to, and congratulations from, some local poly connunities. This appeared in The Telegram of St. John's, Newfoundland: Local polyamorous group applauds Newfoundland and Labrador court decision on three-parent family (June 15).
By Tara Bradbury
A local support group for people who identify as polyamorous is applauding a recent Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court decision declaring two men the fathers of a one-year-old boy.
“Amazing!!! So thrilled to see our province as a pioneer in the field of polyamory!” wrote the administrators of a social media page for Polyamory/Non-Monogamy Support Group NL. “And a huge congrats to the parents! All the best!”
...Fowler gave his decision in April, though it was released publicly just this week.
Others who posted public comments on the local polyamory/non-monogamy site shared the organization’s applause.
“Deadly, sure,” wrote one. “It takes a village to raise a child and as a parent I can tell you if I had two other people to help out some days it would be a huge relief.”
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