This is the kind of case that puts the cart before the horse. That is to say, it is based on the direction society is going rather than an objective measure as to what is best for a child.
In Canada, a judge has recognized legal parentage of three individuals in an unmarried, polyamorous relationship who are raising a child together.
Canada’s CBC reports that while the individuals in the “family” were not identified, the case involves two men who were in a relationship with one woman and are raising her one-year-old child together. The parentage of the child is unknown. Presumably, they believe it to have been fathered by one of the men, but CBC does not make this clear.
While it is of course concerning that this judge would validate such a questionably stable relationship, the kicker is why he has chosen to grant these legal rights to all three adults, which he said was what was best for the infant.
He says it’s because society is changing.
“Society is continuously changing and family structures are changing along with it,” Justice Robert Fowler of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court’s family division wrote in his decision.
“This must be recognized as a reality and not as a detriment to the best interests of the child.”
Pause–because family structure are changing, we must recognize this is good for a child?
Western divorce rates have been climbing steadily over the last half-century, can anyone with even the most basic grip on society really confess to believing this has been good for the children involved? Adultery and multiple sequential marriages and single motherhood are much more common than they used to be, does that make them healthy for the children whose families are changed by these things?
Nonetheless, Fowler felt fully confident that simply validating a certain lifestyle makes it an objectively positive thing for a child.
“It has been well-established that in dealing with the matters of children, the best interests of a child or children shall always be the determining factors for the courts,” he wrote, adding that he believes the child was born into a stable, loving family that is providing a safe and nurturing environment.
When the province’s Children’s Law Act was introduced about 30 years ago, he said, it did not contemplate the “now complex family relationships that are common and accepted in our society.”
“I have no reason to believe that this relationship detracts from the best interests of the child,” Fowler’s decision says.
“On the contrary, to deny the recognition of fatherhood (parentage) by the applicants would deprive the child of having a legal paternal heritage with all the rights and privileges associated with that designation.”
There is nothing at all stable about a polyamorous relationship, one that is not even confined by the bonds of commitment. Some research suggests that 92% of all open marriages fail; who’s to say a polyamorous parental unit would be any different?
I am sure many would join me in asserting that a parental relationship with a good likelihood of falling is definitely not the best thing for any child.