This topic discusses the rights and responsibilities of a father when he is not married to the mother of his child.
The Family Law Act, which replaced the Parentage and Maintenance Act, legislates the responsibility of unwed parents to support children. A “parent” is the mother or father of the child. A “father” is a male person who:
Under Section 20 of the Family Law Act, a person who is a parent of a child can automatically become a guardian by operation of law, provided that the parent becomes aware of the pregnancy or becomes aware of the birth of the child (whichever is earlier) within one year. This provision is amended to protect the interests of the parental guardian who steps up at birth to care for the child. Despite the biological mother’s intention to exclude the biological father by failing to advise him of the pregnancy or the child’s birth, the biological father can now automatically become a parental guardian if he is aware of the pregnancy or birth of the child within one year.
In addition to the above, the “mother” and the “father” of the child are presumed to be guardians of the child if they cohabited for 12 consecutive months, during which the child was born, or were adult interdependent partners before or after the child was born.
Legal guardianship gives an adult the right to make decisions for a child with respect to the following:
In the event that a man denies he is the father if a child, paternity can be determined and the Court can declare a man to be the biological father of the child. If a man claiming to be the father of the child wants a declaration of parentage, he must apply in the Court of Queen’s Bench. A male will be presumed to be the father of a child in the following situations:
A person who is presumed to be the parent may prove that he/she is not a parent. One way this can be done is through DNA testing. An Order for DNA testing may be requested, but no DNA testing can be performed on a person without that person’s consent.
Parents have legal obligations and responsibilities to their children. Pursuant to the Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act, if there is any neglect in providing adequate emotional, physical, educational and social support for their children, a Director can make an application to become the sole or joint guardian of a child where a child is neglected and in need of protective services.
Child support is provided to children under 18 years of age and who has not withdrawn from their parents’ charge, or are of the age of majority but unable, by reason of illness, disability, or other cause to withdraw from their parents’ charge or to obtain the necessaries of life. The amount of the child support payments depends upon many things such as the ability to pay and the financial needs of the child. If child support is not paid voluntarily, a complaint is made against the non-paying parent. A mother can make a claim any time after she becomes pregnant. Once the complaint is made, Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) will contact the other parent. An attempt to make a child support agreement will be made with the non-paying parent. Once the agreement is signed, legal action can be taken if the parent does not make the support payments.