On November 29, 2016 the Ontario Government passed legislation which dramatically reshapes our existing family law. The new law, which came into effect on January 1, 2017 makes a number of changes to existing family law, including the following:
1) Same-sex non-biological parents will no longer have to legally adopt their own children, and
2) Parents conceiving via surrogacy will automatically be recognised as legal parents provided that:
- the would-be parents and surrogate mother have entered into a written surrogacy agreement prior to conception of the child, and
- the surrogate mother consents in writing to give up her parental status both before the child is born and at least 7 days after the child is born.
Under the new law, up to four persons may be legally recognised as “parents”, regardless of their sex and the terms “mother” and “father” will be replaced with the gender-neutral term “parent”.
Critics of the new legislation have argued, among other things, that it gives people the illusion of more options while allowing the state to fundamentally redefine the meaning of “family”. Proponents of the legislation argue that the new law merely reflects modern reality and streamlines the process of becoming parents for those relying on assisted forms of reproduction. Details respecting the new law can be found on the The Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s website.