Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

June 21, 2018

That Canadian polyfamily with three official parents? The CBC finds and interviews them.

Although it hit the news only last week, a poly family in St. John's, Newfoundland, made legal history on April 4th when a judge granted three adults status as parents to their child. The family maintained their privacy even while getting international attention.

Now they've talked to CBC-TV News / Newfoundland, using their initials and photos that conceal their identities. The click below jumps you to the polyfamily segment (4 minutes long).

On the show's website is an article with many photos:

All in the family

Meet 3 parents who won a historic legal victory for polyamorous families

Text by Jonny Hodder, Photos by Paul Daly

Three parents who have made Canadian history by winning a court’s recognition as a legal family are still adjusting to their status as pioneers for polyamorous rights.

"I'm absolutely stoked about it," said a woman known to the courts as C.C., who with her partners — two men named J.M. and J.E. — won the right to be listed as parents on their daughter's birth certificate.

"I think the world is going in the right direction, and I'm so happy, proud, baffled that we made a difference in this."

In April, a judge in the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court's family division issued a decision that made them the first polyamorous family in Canada to have more than two people legally recognized as a child's parents.

"[That] was a big elephant in the room. It was a big weight on our shoulders," said J.E. "And the fact that it's a first is cool. That's great — I love it."

Polyamory is the practice of people engaging in intimate, romantic relationships with more than one individual at a time, but with the consent of all those involved.

...Polyamorous relationships can take many forms. In their particular case, J.M. and J.E. are each involved in separate, committed relationships with C.C., the child’s mother, but not with one another.

Meanwhile, all three live together — each adult has their own bedroom — and share parenting responsibilities of their daughter, whom they call Little A.

C.C., J.M., and J.E. met with CBC News in their St. John’s home. CBC News has agreed to not use their full names in order to protect their daughter’s privacy.

Contrary to what people may assume, the three do not often share a bed together.

"Three people, it's a lot of people to have everything condensed to one room," said J.M. "I don’t know if you've ever slept in a bed with two other people before, but it's very warm, high chance of snoring happening. There's a lot of limbs."

C.C. makes a distinction about the relationship dynamics.

"I'm polyamorous. The boys are both monogamous," she said.

"It's not that I split the love; it's that I have a lot of love. It took a little bit of trust on their behalf … because this was all new to them. Their ideal wasn’t to be in a polyamorous relationship, but it is ideal now."

Although the two men are not romantically involved with one another, they had been best friends for nearly a decade prior to meeting C.C. at a local music festival. While some may bristle at the thought of sharing a long-term romantic partner, both J.E. and J.M. say it was a relatively smooth transition.

"I don't remember it being that tumultuous. Everything kind of flew naturally," J.E. said.

"We live in a culture where everyone's born to think if someone loves one person and has sex with one person, then that means that’s it," said J.M. "But when you open your mind to that concept, you realize there can be more than one person that someone has feelings for."

Given those societal norms, the three were preparing themselves for a drawn-out court battle. Their lawyer, Tracy Bannier, had advised them there was no previous legal precedent in Canada for a polyamorous family seeking to have all parents' names on a birth certificate. (Although, Canadian courts had previously recognized that a child can legally have more than two parents in cases involving biological and same-sex parents.)

...They were... surprised at how quickly Justice Robert Fowler delivered his decision.

"We were expecting a call from our lawyer to get our next court date, and she called me and she was like 'Hey! ... So, your request has been accepted,'" C.C. said.

"And she kind of giggled on the phone, like, 'Yeah, it's done! So Little A has three parents!' ... I just literally started to cry here."

In his written decision, Fowler noted that there was "an unintentional gap" in the Children’s Law Act of 1990 regarding the legal status of polyamorous parents. Rather than prohibiting more than two parents, the nearly three-decade-old document simply doesn't take into account “the now complex family relationships that are common and accepted in our society.” ...

Read the whole article (June 20, 2018).

● Also out yesterday, in The Lawyer's Daily in Canada: N.L. polyamory parenting decision puts children first, lawyers say (June 20):

By Terry Davidson

An unusual court decision declaring two men as parents to a child born into a polyamorous relationship with a woman drives home the justice system’s precept of doing what’s best for children and furthers its attempts to keep up with changing familial realities, experts say.

According to the written decision (C.C. (Re) 2018 NLSC 71), a child was born into the relationship in 2017. Neither man wanted to know which one was the biological father and both sought to be recognized as the child’s parents along with the mother.

Lawyers for the province maintained that Newfoundland’s Children’s Law Act (CLA) does not allow for more than two people to be named as parents of a child.

But Justice Robert Fowler ruled it would be in the best interests of this child to name both the men as its parents. ... “In the present case, the child … has been born into what is believed to be a stable and loving family relationship which, although outside the traditional family model, provides a safe and nurturing environment. The fact that the biological certainty of parentage is unknown seems to be the adhesive force which blends the paternal identity of both men as the fathers. … I can find nothing to disparage that relationship from the best interests of the child’s point of view.”

When asked for comment, Newfoundland’s Department of Justice and Public Safety had little to say.

“This decision is still under review to determine whether or not there is merit for an appeal,” a spokesperson said in an e-mail. “As such, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

The decision speaks to the justice system keeping its eye on the changing face of the Canadian family, said Jodi Lazare of Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law in Nova Scotia.

“The courts are recognizing that the concept of family is becoming increasingly diverse through [things such as] same-sex marriage, through increasing … resort to assisted human reproductive technologies, and I think this is the court acknowledging that a legal regime that doesn’t recognize that diversity does a disservice to citizens — and particularly children,” said Lazare, adding that children “have always been conferred a sort of special status by the law,” which “should be the driving force in parentage determination.”

Tracy Bannier, of Curtis Dawe Lawyers, acted for the trio.

“In the Children’s Law Act, there are places that refer to the mother of a child and the father of a child,” said Bannier. “Certainly, at this point in time, it would never be read to mean that a child could have only one mother or could only have one father. Our argument was the legislation didn’t specifically prohibit a child from having more than two parents. It just simply hadn’t considered the fact that a child may have more than two parents. That point in time when the Children’s Law Act was brought in, it didn’t consider even that a child could have two moms.”

This case is similar to a 2007 Ontario Court of Appeal decision where the female partner of a woman impregnated by a male friend was declared one of the child’s parents.

When asked about the Newfoundland case, St. John’s lawyer Kellie Cullihall, of Gittens & Associates, called it “a victory for people who have non-traditional relationships and their children,” but said there could be unique complications should there be a relationship breakdown of some kind. ...

But professor Rollie Thompson, also of Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, doesn’t see it that way.

“If the relationship breaks down, it just falls into pretty standard Canadian law — it’s no big deal,” said Thompson. “...For example, both of them would have to provide child support to the mother if all three of them split up. The finding of status has rights and obligations that flow from that.”


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