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The obligations and responsibilities of non-biological parents


Family law

Nathalie has asked the following question: Can my spouse be recognized by the courts as the father of my child because he has acted as the male parent during our union that lasted over 10 years, despite the fact that he is not the biological father of my child?

The answer to Nathalie’s question differs if (a) the parties are married and therefore governed by the Divorce Act or (b) the parties are in a de-facto relationship and therefore governed by the Civil Code of Québec.

Being Married or In a De-Facto Relationship Determines Your Rights and Obligations 

The Divorce Act provides that a child, for purposes of that statute, includes a child of whom one spouse is the parent while the other acts as a parent to the child.

The husband acting as a parent may be required to pay support for that child even if there is no biological relationship.

The situation is different when the parties are not related by marriage. The Civil Code of Quebec currently has no similar legislation.

Currently, the Civil Code of Québec provides two sources for the alimentary support obligation, namely, marriage and filiation. The Civil Code of Quebec does not recognize the legal obligation to pay maintenance by a person who is not the biological or adopted parent of a child.

Several decisions of the Quebec Superior Court have discussed the importance of legislative intervention to adjust to today's reality, which is that stepfamilies are also often subject to common-law unions rather than remarriage. This change is necessary to treat all children equally despite the nature of the union of their parents

Me Gianina Fuschini, lawyer

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