BC’s new Family Law Act will – for the first time in BC history – set rules about parentage when children are conceived using assisted reproduction (any form of conception other than sexual intercourse). Although the Act was passed November 24, 2011, it is largely not in force yet, and the government estimates it will take 12 to 18 months to implement the law.
The new Act sets out three important guidelines for determining legal parentage where a sperm, egg or embryo donor is involved (see the separate post on rules where a surrogate is involved):
1. A sperm, egg or embryo donor “is not, by reason only of the donation, the child’s parent”, cannot be declared as a parent only on the basis of the donation, and is only a child’s parent if found to be a parent under the new rules.
2. The child’s birth mother is the child’s legal mother.
3. The person who was married to or in a marriage-like relationship with the birth mother (for this blog, the “spouse”) when the child was conceived is also the child’s legal parent, unless the spouse did not consent to be the parent or withdrew consent to be the parent.
If the donor, the birth mother, and the birth mother’s spouse make an agreement prior to conception that they will all be the parents of the child, then they will all be the legal parents of the child born. The agreement is deemed to be revoked if a party withdraws from the agreement or dies before the child is born.
This creates the potential for a child to have more than 2 legal parents.
If there is a dispute or any uncertainty about whether or not a person is a parent, a court application can be made to determine parentage.
The new Act also amends the Vital Statistics Act so that the child’s statement of birth must be completed by the parents (as defined above), and the birth certificate subsequently issued must not show that the child was born as a result of assisted reproduction.