Judges in Alberta make child custody and guardianship decisions based on the child's best interests. While every case is different, it may be possible under certain circumstances for a person who is not the child's biological parent to be awarded custody or guardianship.
These issues have come up in a case involving an Edmonton woman who is seeking to establish parental rights to her former partner's biological daughter. Both parties to the same-sex couple are listed as parents on the child's birth certificate, but the biological mother denied the other mother access after the couple broke up.
The women had been together prior to the birth of the little girl, but during a brief split, the biological mother became pregnant. Shortly thereafter, the women reconciled and decided to raise the child jointly. The woman now seeking parental rights says that she was present for the birth and even cut the umbilical cord. She also shares a last name with the little girl and supports her financially.
The non-biological mother was denied guardianship after she applied, and she believes that Alberta's Family Law Act discriminates against her and other parents in same-sex relationships. A visitation order was issued to the non-biological mother, giving her 12 hours of access to the child each month, but she still plans to move forward with her challenge to the law, even if she and the biological mother can agree on a parenting plan through mediation.
Parents in Calgary may want to follow up on the outcome of the case.
For more on establishing effective custody arrangements in and out of court, please see our child custody and access overview.