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Friday February 1, 2019

The Mamas and the Papas… and Their Parenting Agreement

Authored by: Mary H. Brown Posted in: Family Law

I’m sure I was not the only one who spent a few minutes this weekend listening to the radio documentary “The Mamas and the Papas: How two Ottawa couples became co-parents ” on the CBC’s The Sunday Edition or reading the accompanying article online.

In Ontario, thanks to a game-changing court decision in 2007: AA v BB, 2007 ONCA 2, and subsequent legislative changes, more than two individuals can be listed on a child’s birth certificate as the parents.

(This is not permitted in Nova Scotia.)

In the CBC story, Matthew Pearson describes how he and his long-time friend, Karin, decided to have a child together, and platonically co-parent.  While planning and deciding whether this was the right path for them, they both fell in love, with other people.

The resulting family was comprised of baby Zora, and four loving parents: Matthew and Alain, and Karin and Janette.

What struck me the most was Matthew’s description of drafting a parenting agreement:

“The four of us spent hours talking about how the arrangement would work. We drafted and signed a parenting agreement — a contract outlining our expectations, responsibilities and values. It established how we would split our time with our child, including holidays, and how we would make decisions about the child’s health and education. It also included a process for resolving conflicts.

 ‘Whoever did it, did it right’ was going to be our motto, a nod to a shared commitment not to micromanage each other.”

These parents were not required to write an agreement, but they recognized the importance of seriously and deliberately considering the challenges that would inevitably arise, the values they shared, and the process they planned to take to confront difficulties.  I appreciated that they came up with a motto to encapsulate their approach to co-parenting.

While we more often assist clients in drafting a parenting agreement within a separation agreement, the very same considerations apply in negotiating a pro-active, child-centered parenting agreement.

The lawyers at BOYNECLARKE LLP are experienced in drafting agreements that reflect a range of family configurations and origins.  If you have questions about drafting a parenting agreement, a separation agreement, or a cohabitation contract, please contact one of the members of our Family Team.

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