All Parents Are Equal Act, 2016 Now In Force – Surrogacy Arrangements Impacted
Several months ago, I wrote a series of pieces including: Ontario Government Introduces Bill to Strengthen the Legal Status of All Parents, New Surrogacy and Parenting Declaration Laws Upcoming in Ontario, and New Proposed Law Clarifies Parentage, Surrogacy Rights, and Rights Arising from Assisted Reproduction about the All Parents Are Equal Act, 2016.
That Act is now in force, effective January 1, 2017 and (among several other things) amends the Ontario Children’s Law Reform Act to change the former practice around surrogacy arrangements. That former practice called for a court to make a declaration – on the parties’ consent – as to the child’s parentage after birth, and required the parties to file a formal court application to obtain it.
Since obtaining the court declaration was the more costly portion of the former multi-stage process for legally recognizing “parent” status in surrogacy arrangements, the elimination of this steps may come as a welcome change.
However, the Act’s more streamlined is not without its detractors. With the elimination of the need for a court declaration in some circumstances, the safeguards have been moved to the front end of the process, before the child is conceived and born. Now, up to four intended parents of a child born to a surrogate will be recognized without a court order if the following conditions are met:
- The surrogate and the intended parent(s) received independent legal advice and entered into a written pre-conception surrogacy agreement.
- The surrogate provided written consent to give up her parental status both before conception and seven days after the birth of the child.
(That seven days is a “cooling off” period, to ensure that the written consent by the surrogate is validly given).
Since in routine cases there will no longer be any court oversight of the process, it will be left to the parties themselves, with the help of their lawyers, to ensure that they meet the requirements of the Act, and that when the time comes, the surrogate gives her consent to relinquish the child.
What do you think of these new changes? Are they an improvement?