Family Law / Divorce Library

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The factors that courts consider when determining whether step-parents or other adults are in the place of a parent (in loco parentis) depends on whether there is a divorce or the parent and other person were not married.

To determine if a married spouse is in the role of a parent, courts must look at a number of factors including (Chartier v Chartier, 1999 CanLII 707 (SCC)):

  1. Whether the child participates in the extended family in the same way as would a biological child;
  2. Whether the person provides financially for the child (depending on ability to pay);
  3. Whether the person disciplines the child as a parent;
  4. Whether the person represents to the child, the family, the world, either explicitly or implicitly, that he or she is responsible as a parent to the child;
  5. The nature or existence of the child’s relationship with the absent biological parent.

Where the parent and other person were not married, the other person must be an Adult Interdependent Partner who demonstrated a settled intention to treat the child as their own, considering:

  1. The child’s age;
  2. The duration of the child’s relationship with the person;
  3. The nature of the child’s relationship with the person, including the child’s perception of the person as a parental figure, the extent to which the person is involved in the child’s care, discipline, education and recreational activities, and any continuing contact or attempts at contact between the person and the child if the person is living separate and apart from the child’s other parent;
  4. Whether the person has considered applying for guardianship of the child, adopting the child, or changing the child’s surname to that person’s surname;
  5. Whether the person has provided direct or indirect financial support for the child;
  6. The nature of the child’s relationship with any other parent of the child;
  7. Any other factor that the court considers relevant.


Content by Ken Proudman (Edmonton)

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