Notice and best interests of the child considered at November 2021 Parentage Law Reform Project Committee Meeting
December 1, 2021
BY Kevin Zakreski
At the latest monthly meeting of BCLI’s committee considering reforms to part 3 of the Family Law Act the committee considered two issues concerning section 31 of the act, which sets out the framework for court orders declaring parentage.
The first issue concerns notice of applications to court under the section. Section 31 already has a provision that lists people who must be notified of an application. But the provision is incomplete. Notably, it doesn’t refer to public bodies, such as the vital statistics agency, which sometimes must be notified of an application. The committee considered an amendment that would spell out, in section 31, when the vital statistics agency must be notified of an application.
The second issue involved the role—if any—to be played by the best interests of the child test in orders made under section 31. Section 31 doesn’t currently mention the best interests of the child, but the concept has appeared in a few court decisions made under the section. The committee considered a range of approaches to the test—from proposing new provisions tailored to applying the test to parentage to retaining the status quo, which currently leaves it to the courts to lead development on this issue.
The goal of these discussions is to develop tentative recommendations to reform part 3 for a public consultation to be held later in the life of the project.