The Ontario government recently announced the All Families Are Equal Act, 2016 which will change the Children’s Law Reform Act, the Vital Statistics Act, and almost 40 other provincial statutes to guarantee that all children and parents in the province are treated equally, regardless of the way in which children are conceived. Legislation will also be amended to use gender neutral terminology, wherever possible.

The new Act was the result of a private member’s bill from NDP MP Cheri DiNovo called Cy and Ruby’s Law, named after the children of two same-sex Ontarians who experienced a difficult childbirth and realized that if the birth mother died while giving birth, the other mother may not have legally been able to take their baby home.

The Act was unanimously passed by the Ontario legislature and will be in force as of January 1, 2017.

Changes to the Children’s Law Reform Act

Rules of Legal Parentage

In situations where a child is conceived through assisted reproduction, such as invitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy, the Act will recognize that the parents of that child are the birth parent and the birth parent’s partner (if any) at the time of the child’s conception. No court order will be needed for such recognition to be made.

Surrogacy

Up to four intended parents of a child born to a surrogate mother will be recognized without a court order, as long as all of these conditions are met:

  • The surrogate and the intended parent or parents all received independent legal advice;
  • The surrogate and the intended parent/parents entered into a written pre-conception surrogacy agreement;
  • The surrogate provided written consent to relinquish her parental status both before conception and seven days following the birth of the child.

Parentage Agreements

Up to four individuals will be recognized as the parents of a child without a court order, so long as all parties entered into a written pre-conception agreement to parent the child together.  The birth parent must be one of the parties to the written agreement.

Posthumous Conception

A court will be able to grant a declaration of parental status to a deceased individual where a child is conceived after that individual’s death.

This will allow the posthumously conceived child to inherit or seek support from the deceased parent’s estate, where the child is born within three years of the parent’s death.

Changes to the Vital Statistics Act

Following the official proclamation of the All Families Are Equal Act, 2016, births in the province will be registered based on the new amended parentage rules. The amendments will provide rules for determining a child’s last name, where there is a conflict between the recognized parents.

What Does this Mean for Ontario Families?

This represents the first major update to Ontario’s parentage laws since 1978.

Importantly, same-sex parents and other families who have used assisted reproduction to conceive their children, will no longer have to adopt their children in order to be recognized as parents. Same-sex parents will no longer have to obtain a court order to obtain that legal recognition.

To speak with an experienced Windsor family law lawyer about parental rights, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online. We serve clients in Windsor, Essex County and throughout the region.