National fertility awareness week: co-parenting

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

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
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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.

lester-aldridge-logoIf 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

About Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP is a nationally recognised law firm with offices in London, Bournemouth and Southampton. The family team are leaders in their field. Jane, Jo and Rosie are specialist family solicitors with a wealth of experience in all areas of family law from divorce to children, prenuptial agreements to the settlement of financial disputes and everything in between. These women are feisty when they need to be. But their approach is designed to reduce conflict in order to ensure the best possible outcome. They recognise that family issues can be extremely emotional and they offer access to specialist advice delivered in a friendly, approachable and understandable way designed to guide you from start to finish. If you would like an informal, no-obligation chat with Jane, Jo or Rosie please telephone 03300 539754.