Family law in Quebec has recently undergone several changes with respect to gender identity. The family law reform is now beginning to address the topic of filiation and sexual assault.
In order to understand the impact that these legislative changes will have, it is important to understand the concept of filiation, which is the legal relationship between parents and their children. Both the children and the parents have rights and obligations as a result of this relationship. Furthermore, there are certain situations in which filiation can be claimed or contested.
For more information read: How Do I Establish Paternity and What Does It Mean?
Last month, Quebec Justice Minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, proposed Bill 12 which would allow women who were raped to oppose the filiation between their child and their rapist. This bill would not only protect the child if they were adopted, but also not penalize them. Therefore, it would not prevent the child from being an heir to the man who raped their mother. Furthermore, the abuser would be responsible for compensating the victim in order to help with the financial burden of raising their child.
The bill was inspired by a court case last year where a young woman was unable to refuse her rapist’s request for a paternity test, the court had to recognize the man as the father. Once you are able to prove paternity, the tribunal must recognize you as the father.
Bill 12 will allow the mother to prevent the person who raped her from being in her child’s life as a father figure and will allow her to still be compensated financially.
According to an estimate from the Department of Justice, over 170 children in Quebec are born annually as a product of rape. If adopted, this reform would protect the mothers of children born from rape.
Being sexually assaulted is traumatizing and having your aggressor try to implicate themselves in your child’s life is something no mother should ever have to endure. This bill is necessary to ensure this case never repeats itself in Quebec.
Quebec’s family law system is known to be progressive, and its reform continues work on just that.