Before embarking on platonic co-parenting, it is important to consider who you want to co-parent with and how your relationship as parents will work.
You also need to be clear about your expectations, shared values and approaches to parenting, and practical considerations.
One of the most important considerations is how the baby will be conceived and carried and you need to think about,
Consider seeking advice, and make sure to discuss these points with your potential co-parent, before committing.
Once you’ve decided to go ahead and start your family, you may wish to enter into a pre-conception or platonic co-parenting agreement which a lawyer and/or a mediator can assist with.
This agreement is designed to record your intentions as co-parents and create a framework outlining both parties’ expectations. A basic platonic co-parenting agreement template will include:
These agreements, however, are not legally binding. Since they cannot be enforced by UK law, the co-parents must rely on trust. This can leave people concerned about what might happen in the event of a disagreement or other conflicts further down the line.
While it would not be legally binding, you could still consider talking with family law lawyers to draft your platonic co-parenting agreement. This would help you identify potential disagreements and account for them before signing.
The woman who carries the child will be automatically recognised as the child’s legal parent and detailed on the birth certificate in all circumstances of conception.
If you are co-parenting, it is important to consider who will be recognised as the second legal parent on the child’s birth certificate and granted parental responsibility.
However, who can be recognised as a parent will depend on the circumstances and the family’s makeup.
If a single female wishes to co-parent with a man, then he can be the child’s legal parent by being registered on the child’s birth certificate, either at the time of the child’s registration (and he will need to be present for this) or through a Statutory Declaration of Parentage or court order.
If you wish to conceive the child using a registered sperm donation clinic, you will need to consent to his legal parenthood before treatment begins, and a clinic may refer to this as a “known sperm donation”.
It is recommended that you use a clinic for this reason. If you proceed with artificial insemination at home, then you are trusting the mother to agree to register the father at birth.
As the law only allows two parents on a birth certificate, if you are looking to co-parent with more than two parents, you need to consider further arrangements to grant parental responsibility for the child through a parental responsibility agreement.
For example, if a single female and a gay couple who are married or in a civil partnership agree to co-parent, only one of the men can be registered on the birth certificate as a legal parent alongside the mother. In these circumstances, a third person can be granted parental responsibility as a step-parent of the child or by way of court order.
This means that while they are not legally defined as a parent on the birth certificate, they have an equal say to the legal parents on the key decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
Meaningful discussions before entering into a co-parenting agreement will hopefully prevent disagreements in the future, but if a disagreement arises regarding the care of your child, you may wish to attend mediation to discuss matters.
Alternatively, your lawyer can forward proposals and negotiate on your behalf. Whichever method you choose, the key to an amicable agreement is good communication and realistic expectations.
Solicitors can discuss further options such as a roundtable meeting where both lawyers and clients are present or arbitration if you still lack a way to solve platonic co-parenting conflict.
If agreements cannot be reached, an application to Court may be advisable. The application may be for a Specific Issue Order, for example, if you disagree over a choice of schools, a Prohibited Steps (which prevents a parent from doing something), Parental Responsibility or a Child Arrangements Order which sets out how much time a child spends with each child.
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