Parentage project committee considers court declarations of parentage

29 July 2021

By Kevin Zakreski

BCLI’s Parentage Law Reform Project Committee has been meeting monthly over the course of this year. At its most recent meeting—held in July 2021—it completed its overview of the legal, medical, and social dimensions of parentage, by examining processes for surrogacy, donors, and multi-parent families. In the meeting, the committee also began its detailed consideration of the provisions of part 3 of the Family Law Act. Its focus was on section 31, which deals with the court’s powers to make a declaration of parentage.

Since section 31 came into force, it has been the focus of many court decisions under part 3. There are questions about its reach, as court cases have considered whether declarations of parentage may still be made on an alternative basis: the court’s common-law jurisdiction to protect children (what lawyers call its parens patriae jurisdiction). The committee considered improvements that could be made to section 31 and how this parens patriae jurisdiction should figure into the law of parentage in British Columbia.

The committee will continue its consideration of this topic at its August 2021 meeting. The goal is to develop tentative recommendations to reform part 3 for a public consultation to be held later in the life of the project.

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