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Political Issues This forum is for discussing the political aspects of divorce: reform to divorce laws, men's rights, women's rights, injustices in the divorce system, etc.

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Old 06-06-2007, 11:33 AM
Decent Dad Decent Dad is offline
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Default The state can't decide what makes a parent

The state can't decide what makes a parent
Lauren Lackie and Stephanie Chipeur, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Single mothers know perhaps better than most women that good men are hard to find. What they might not know is that once you've found one, it could be hard to keep him in his place; or, more specifically, you might not be able to stop him from becoming a parent to your children.

Take the case of Jane Doe.

A single, financially and emotionally independent woman, Jane Doe shares her home with boyfriend John Doe (no, not their real names). She wished to become a mother. He had no desire to be a father. So, respective of each other's wishes, Jane proceeded to become the mother of a child through artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor.

The Family Law Act in her home province of Alberta indicates that irrespective of their wishes, John Doe is assumed to have parental obligations to Jane Doe's child, essentially because he shares a bedroom with her.

Both Jane and John wished to excuse John from those obligations and rights through legal contract. They created an agreement validating their choice of lifestyle and giving clarity to their relationship.

So, while the two happily share a home, they wanted to make it legally clear that Jane's decision to become a single parent meant that she, and only she, is the child's parent and John is neither the biological parent nor should he be considered either the adoptive parent or legal guardian of Jane's child. And they asked the court to validate that contract.

It is difficult to understand why this would be a problem. Neither Jane nor John was seeking to change the law, which, as a default mechanism, has value in protecting women with children in common-law relationships from being left emotionally and economically high and dry when such a relationship ends or from feeling economically trapped in a dysfunctional relationship.

All Jane wanted to do was make it clear that she doesn't need the state's protection. She doesn't want a husband or a "father," de facto or in loco parentis, for a child that she planned, conceived, bore and intends to parent entirely on her own accord and of her own free will. She was asking, in essence, for legal approval of her status as a mature, emotionally and financially independent professional woman entirely capable of making her own lifestyle decisions and willing to independently bear the burden of parenthood as a single mother.

The answer from the courts, so far, has been "no" at both the Court of Queen's Bench and Alberta Court of Appeal.

As a result, Jane Doe's lawyers have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to consider her case. One hopes it will do so, because the decisions to date leave women like Jane in a terrible position socially, legally and emotionally. The decisions, which some view as state paternalism, mean women can only be entirely in control of their lives if they don't have children.

In other words, while Jane was living as a non-parent, she could freely share her home and/or her heart with John Doe, assuming only those joint financial obligations the two decided to engage in. However, once she became a mother, even independently, the courts have indicated through their decisions that she now must share her child and her parental status with John. Jane is therefore legally barred from being an entirely independent woman and single mother -- with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that -- so long as she shares her home with John.

Women may have reproductive choice in this country, but once they've made the choice to reproduce, parental choice appears to be a matter of state control

If good men were hard to find before, they'll be pretty much impossible to uncover if the state insists on maintaining an interest in what goes on in single mothers' bedrooms. One can only hope the Supreme Court will recognize that women should be free to live their lives as they wish.

Lauren Lackie and Stephanie Chipeur are law students at the University of Toronto.
Old 06-07-2007, 07:44 AM
Denisem Denisem is offline
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Default Wonderful for them....

Great for them....but what about the child....when the child is old enough to know he/she was not wanted by Jon...then what????
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