Ontario Government Recognizes Polyamorous Families?

The three parents, seen here with their daughter, have been in a polyamorous relationship since 2015. (Paul Daly)

I can only conclude that the Ontario Government is now recognizing polyamorous families. This forward thinking government has forms ready to deal with more than two parents being recognized as a legal family. The new marriage license application form is pioneering this trend.

In April, a judge in the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court’s family division issued a decision that to men, a woman, and a child the first polyamorous family in Canada to have more than two people legally recognized as a child’s parents.

This landmark decision adds more complexity to the ever changing definition of a “family”. There has been quite the journey from heterosexual couples to homosexual couples to Co-parenting and blended families. This complexity of the definition of the family challenges our traditional values based government bureaucratic processes. Such fast social changes are sometimes difficult to make their way through process paperwork.

I can only guess that it is in the spirit of keeping up with a modern definition of the family that the Government of Ontario has issued a new marriage license application.  The application has space to list 4 parents for each applicant. Note that there are no instructions as to how to complete the form.  Do you have to have 4 parents? Who exactly are 4 parental units? Does this mean that polyamorous families are OK? The lack of guidance in how to complete the form leaves many questions.

My puzzlement continues. This application is used to purchase a Marriage License. But there are spaces for only two parents per applicant on the Marriage License. So which of the 4 listed do you choose to be registered as the official parents on the marriage database in Ontario? Again no instructions.

Furthermore, the form is time stamped as being printed in February, 2018. This new form has been presented to municipal offices across the province. The clerks are the ones who produce the Marriage License. Without instruction, what have they been filling out? Have they not questioned this new form? What do they do when presented with 4 parents per applicant and need to complete the Marriage License with two parents per applicant? I surmise they shrug their shoulders and say, “Whatever!”

I applaud the forward think people who have issued this new form. I ask that they consider adding some instructions and definitions to help people navigate the change. In addition, changes in forms down stream in the process need to be completed quickly to reduce confusion.