Does a party stand in loco parentis?

Ontario, Canada


The following excerpt is from Dunleavy v. Comeau, 2019 ONSC 4535 (CanLII):

The leading case regarding whether a party stands in loco parentis is Chartier v. Chartier, 1999 CanLII 707 (SCC), [1999] 1 S.C.R 242, where Bastarache J. stated at para. 39: Whether a person stands in the place of a parent must take into account all factors relevant to that determination, viewed objectively. What must be determined is the nature of the relationship. The Divorce Act makes no mention of formal expressions of intent. The focus on voluntariness and intention in Carignan was dependant on the common law approach discussed earlier. It was wrong. The court must determine the nature of the relationship by looking at a number of factors, among which is intention. Intention will not only be expressed formally. The court must also infer intention from actions, and take into consideration that even expressed intentions may sometimes change. The actual fact of forming a new family is a key factor in drawing an inference that the step-parent treats the child as a member of his or her family, i.e., a child of the marriage. The relevant factors in defining the parental relationship include, but are not limited to, whether the child participates in the extended family in the same way as would a biological child; whether the person provides financially for the child (depending on ability to pay); whether the person disciplines the child as a parent; 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; the nature or existence of the child's relationship with the absent biological parent. The manifestation of the intention of the step-parent cannot be qualified as to duration, or be otherwise made conditional or qualified, even if this intention is manifested expressly. Once it is shown that the child is to be considered, in fact, a "child of the marriage", the obligations of the step-parent towards him or her are the same as those relative to a child born of the marriage with regard to the application of the Divorce Act. The step-parent, at this point, does not only incur obligations. He or she also acquires certain rights, such as the right to apply eventually for custody or access under s. 16(12) of the Divorce Act. Analysis

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