Routes to parenthood: co-parenting

Co-parenting is when two or more people who are not a couple come to an arrangement whereby they conceive and parent children together. Unlike with a pregnancy using a known sperm donor or using a surrogate, individuals who are co-parenting share the responsibility for bringing up the child. You may choose to co-parent with an existing friend or acquaintance or use a matching service to find someone to co-parent with.

Co-parenting arrangements can be made between two single people, a single person and a couple or two couples. However, unless the arrangement is made between one man and one woman (in which case the man can be named on the birth certificate), it’s not possible for all people involved to be legally recognised as parents (although you may be able to attain some parental responsibility) and therefore it’s advisable to get expert legal advice at an early stage of your planning. Click here for details of LGBT Foundation’s free legal advice surgeries which you may be able to access for initial information.

If you are thinking of co-parenting, you will need to choose each other carefully because you will need to be able to work together for the next 19 years (at least). You need to ensure that you have similar expectations about the future of the child, your respective involvement, your financial contributions and so on. You are in a way creating a situation similar to that of separated or divorced parents, which is often not easy. The difference is of course that you have not been in a relationship and that you are planning the child as friends. 

It is a good idea to draw up a ‘parenting agreement’ covering the important aspects of childcare such as money, living arrangements, schooling etc. It wouldn’t be legally binding but a court would consider it (along with the best interests of the child), if any dispute arose. Equally important, it encourages you and the co-parent(s) to discuss these key considerations before a child is conceived.

Useful links