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Equal Rights For Parents - New Laws Effective January 1st

If Sam Oosterhoff had been in the legislature on Tuesday, he'd probably have opposed. But the province's youngest and newest MPP wasn't sworn in until the following day, and now, Ontario's All Families Are Equal Act, 2016 is a done deal.

Back in June when we first wrote on the topic, Premier Kathleen Wynn was on a mission to have Bill 28 passed by year-end. She's made good - the new rules kick in on New Year's Day, 2017.

Why The Need For Change?

Ontario's parentage laws haven't budged for almost 40 years - way back in 1978. Come January 1st, parents, whether straight or LGBTQ@+, will have an easier time gaining legal recognition as parents.

Prior to the changes, couples who use assisted reproduction often find themselves jumping through cumbersome legal hoops over parentage. Birth certificates currently allow for the registration of one mother and one "father/other". But in assisted reproduction, there's always a trio - a fact that often leads to big legal headaches.

So long as such couples do not know the identity of the surrogate or the egg or sperm donor, registering both parents is fairly straightforward. But if donor and recipient knew each other, the recipient's spouse has to either adopt the resulting child or seek a court order to gain legal status as a parent.

The new Bill amends wording in such legislation as the Children's Law Reform Act to reflect gender-neutral terminology. It ensures equal treatment for parents of all orientations. It also includes independent counsel and consent requirements aimed at protecting the rights of parents and surrogates, both before conception and after birth.

It's the province's latest effort to keep family law evolving along with the never-ending wave of social change.

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