I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ontario Court backs parental right of known sperm donor

Life keeps getting more and more complicated for a child when we use other than natural means to procreate children with more than 2 potential parents. In the UK they are getting rid of the Father on birth certificates and conjuring up another label such as "other parent." Where is this all leading. Will men become more marginalized as a parent. At least the following judgment keeps a father in the life of the child albeit as a co-parent.MJM

Ruling may affect lesbian couples

Shannon Kari, National Post Published: Friday, January 30, 2009

For the first time in Canada a court has ruled on the legitimacy of a donor contract in determining the competing parental rights of a lesbian couple and a gay man who was the sperm donor.

The precedent-setting court ruling that the agreement is not enforceable could open the door for a child to have three or four recognized parents in "known donor" situations.

At the same time, it may also have a chilling effect on lesbian couples seeking a specific donor and who want their child to know the identity of the father.

The legal dispute involves a lesbian couple in Toronto and a gay man who agreed to be their sperm donor and play an active role as a parent. (The parties cannot be identified because there is a ban on any information that could identify the child.)

The couple and the man signed a "donor contract" before the child was born in 2002, which set out his rights as a "co-parent" including regular access as well as full custody if both women were to die. The agreement included a promise to try for a "three-way" adoption, which would have required a court challenge under the Charter of Rights, although this was never followed through.

The two women and the man are all highly educated professionals and the couple wanted the child to know her father and intentionally sought out a gay man as the donor.

"Given their options to have children, what we were offering might be interesting to [gay men], might be attractive to them, I mean their options are in some ways much bleaker than ours," one of the women told the court.

The friendship has deteriorated and the two women have tried to reduce the father's access to the child.

Access was restored after the father went to court in 2007. The couple responded by suing the man for $250,000 and they also want him to post a $25,000 bond that would be forfeited if he seeks custody of the child.

In the latest legal action in a Torontofamily court, thecouple asked a family court judge to order the father to give his consent to have the non-birth mother named as an adoptive parent of the child. Presently, the father and the birth mother are the legal parents. If the non-birth mother was permitted to adopt, the father would lose his legal status as a parent.

The father accused the women of trying to change his status from that of a co-parent to no more than a "friendly uncle." An adoption order "discriminates against gay fathers, because it says you're a second-class parent. You are little more than a sperm donor we control," the court heard.

Justice Marion Cohen ruled in favour of the father in a decision issued this week.

The best interests of the child must always take precedence to any "domestic contract," stressed the family court judge. "Time and experience have proven that [the man] is not a mere sperm donor and [the child] is no longer a theoretical proposition, nor is her relationship with her father," Judge Cohen wrote.

"The issue for the court is not what kind of family the parents want, but what is best for the child," the judge noted.

Ruling may affect lesbian couples

She concluded that the donor contract, which said the non-birth mother would become an adoptive parent if they were not granted a three-way adoption, is unenforceable.

The father, who is married to his partner, has been "actively and wholeheartedly" involved as a parent with the child, Judge Cohen said.

"This case is not about protecting nuclear families to reduce their anxieties," the judge said. "In this case, I am considering the legal situation of a self-constructed, non-traditional family, the three-parent family created by these parties. For the sake of the child and in their own best interests, the parties will have to live with their choices."

The ruling could have broader public policy implications, suggested family lawyer Jeffery Wilson, who represented the lesbian couple.

"The judge appears to suggest that the argument for a nuclear family is not especially persuasive. With a known donor, children can expect families that are made up of three or four parents," Mr. Wilson said. "An anonymous donor is more likely to ensure the autonomy of a two-parent family."

The former head of the family law section of the Ontario Bar Association said yesterday the ruling is likely to have an impact on other same-sex couples seeking to have a child. "It could discourage lesbian couples from choosing a known donor in the future," said Kelly Jordan.

Paul Pellman, the lawyer who represented the father, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The recession is Impacting Family Life and Law in Alberta with tragic consequences

Northern Alberta (ECMAS Edmonton) has seen a surge in interest from Divorced men impacted by the downturn. 2-3 calls a day to our hotline - up from 2-3/week last year this time. Many are despairing about not being able to make Child Maintenance payments. We understand the MEP (Maintenance Enforcement Program - the same storm-troopers as Ontario's FRO) call center is overwhelmed by the onslaught of calls from men and women. At our last Board meeting Feb 12, we had terrible news from a women who told us her son committed suicide just before Xmas due to the stress he was under by MEP - after reaching a Divorce agreement in June. He had contacted our hotline and spoke with someone.. His mother found our contact info among his papers. He was laid off and the child custody was set at an impossibly high level - "his best year ever" plus he had to deal with the stress of finding new work, dealing with the aftermath of the divorce (loss of access to his children plus be had been expelled from his home by ex-wife who took a EPO (Emergency Protection Order - standard issue Restraining Order on "allegations' of merely "being afraid"). He couldn't deal with it and took his life Dec 14. When his mother finally composed herself enough to start dealing with his estate, she contacted MEP about his death and they had the gall to suggest they could garnish whatever assets he had left to satisfy the Child Support in arrears! She was beyond mad. We are working to present this info to our Justice Minister and possible go public. This may seem like ambulance chasing, but things are pretty grim here right now and we feel no-one is bringing attention to this matter. We would like to speak with anyone who has experienced such horrific abuse by the MEP in Alberta (or I suppose elsewhere - we can coordinate with that fellow in London) We are hoping to pull it all together at next Thursday's Board meeting. Regards, crj