Parentage committee considers whether counselling should be required in connection with agreements under part 3 of the Family Law Act￼
November 18, 2022
BY Kevin Zakreski
At its second committee meeting in October 2022, BCLI’s Parentage Law Reform Project Committee considered whether parties to an agreement respecting parentage under part 3 of the Family Law Act should be required to obtain psychosocial counselling in connection with that agreement.
Counselling differs from independent legal advice, which is sometimes required as a part of these agreements. Counselling addresses the personal and social dynamics of the parties. It is widely considered to be an important and valuable part of the assisted-reproduction process. Most parties to donor and surrogacy arrangements—particularly if they use the services of a fertility clinic—go through counselling.
But neither British Columbia nor any other Canadian province or territory currently has legislation that requires counselling. A legislative requirement was included in Québec’s recent Bill 2, but the provisions of that bill addressing counselling died on the order paper (and thus did not become law) when Québec’s legislature was prorogued for its general election earlier this year. In its recent discussion paper on parentage, the Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia proposed a counselling requirement for in certain circumstances.
The topic provoked considerable discussion at the committee meeting. While counselling was seen to be a helpful addition to the process that should be encouraged, there were concerns about making it the subject of a legislative requirement. In particular, what should the consequences of noncompliance with a counselling requirement be?
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.