Co-parenting: what are the issues?
It’s day 2 of our mini-series of articles for National Fertility Awareness Week and we’re offering some information if you’re considering co-parenting. Co-parenting describes a situation where the parents are not in a marriage, cohabitation or romantic relationship with one another.
Co-parenting agreements are put in place before conception to regulate the parties’ involvement in the child’s upbringing. Such agreements may be put in place where a lesbian couple and a gay couple join to start a family and all four parents play an active role in the child’s life. There are no fixed arrangements for co-parenting and agreements can also be between one man and two women, two men and one woman, or a single man and a single woman.
It is strongly recommended that legal advice is sought and a donor or co-parenting agreement put in place to reduce any potential co-parenting disputes which could arise in the future. Examples of what can be included are:
- Who will be named on the birth certificate
- Who the child will live with and when they will spend time with the other parents
- What legal applications will be made after birth
- Decision-making both during the pregnancy and after the birth
- Financial responsibility for the child
- What happens if your relationship breaks down
In the event of a dispute, the court will consider the best interests of the child, although an agreement reduces the chances of a dispute arising. Whilst co-parenting agreements are not legally binding, they are persuasive provided that legal advice is taken by all involved prior to the birth.
A child can only have two legal parents, although other parents may still be able to acquire parental responsibility. This can either be acquired by agreement or by court order. The birth mother is always the legal mother, but who the second legal parent is depends on certain circumstances, including:
- When the child was conceived
- Where conception took place
- Whether the birth mother is married or in a civil partnership
If disputes do arise that cannot be resolved, any of the child’s parents can apply to the court for assistance. Legal parents can automatically apply to the court; others will have to seek the court’s permission before they make the application.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.