Surrogacy has soared in both popularity and publicity in recent years. The lesser well-known coparenting route has also soared in popularity, though it has gained fewer column inches… Both are valid routes to parenthood, however coparenting is less discussed by celebs, so has not gained such high media traction.
Platonic co parenting (or elective co parenting) is also a legitimate alternative to being a single mother by choice (SMC), and I advocate equally for both depending on your background and individual situation. It’s important for women to know about all of the options available to them when deciding it is time to start a family.
Platonic coparenting is when a child is raised by two people who are not in a romantic relationship.
Where surrogacy and elective co parenting converge is their complex legal implications, stemming from the fact that, in the UK, two parties share a parenthood that isn’t legally binding.
(The two parties in surrogacy are the couple and the surrogate. The two parties in platonic coparenting are the two individuals, be they friends or relative strangers.)
What should I do before going ahead with platonic coparenting?
Many elective co parents meet through organisations like The coParenting Agency and Creating Parents. And as the name implies, platonic co parenting sometimes sees two friends have a child together. However, the depth or longevity of your friendship may have little bearing on your compatibility as platonic co parents.
The important things to consider, regardless of how well you know your prospective co parent, are:
- Do you have shared values?
- Does your lifestyle fit with theirs?
- Do you have similar outlooks on life?
Will both of you be recognised as the child’s legal parents, or just one of you?
If the latter, how will the two of you handle conflict in the future when one has an elevated status in the eyes of the law?
Put simply: do the two of you share a profound sense of trust and understanding?
The next step: signing your platonic co parenting agreement
Okay, so you’ve found your platonic coparent and you’re ready to go. Now what?
Vitally: Ensure you draw up a legal agreement prior to embarking on your pregnancy journey. While not legally binding in the UK (prior to birth) it is a great framework.
Make sure to draw up a legal agreement prior to embarking on your pregnancy journey with a platonic coparent. It’s not legally binding in the UK, but it still makes for a great framework moving forward.
I strongly recommend you enter into a platonic co parenting agreement, otherwise known as a preconception agreement.
Mediated by a lawyer, the agreement records your intentions as co parents.
It acts as a framework for your respective expectations—of both your relationship as platonic co parents and the future the two want to build for your child.
The nuances of your platonic coparenting agreement will depend on the law firm you go with, but it will certainly document the following vital details:
- who has the final say over your baby’s name
- how their life story will be explained to them
- who will attend antenatal appointments and the birth
- your attitudes toward important medical procedures, such as vaccination and blood transfusion
- childcare agreements, such as stipulating whether you’ll hire a childminder or nanny, and whether you’ll take your toddler to nursery
- your views on education, such as how you’ll choose a school, whether you’d consider going private, and your respective involvements with the intimate aspects of your child’s education, like parents’ evening, attending events, and going over their school reports
- how you both imagine you’d deal with challenging behaviour
- whether you’ll raise your child in a religious setting
- how you’ll allocate time during special occasions, such as holidays and your child’s birthday
- how you’ll manage money, including maintenance and life insurance.
Ultimately, your platonic co parenting agreement lays down in black and white how well you and your co parent believed your parenting styles aligned prior to conception. In the worst-case scenario that you face a legal dispute down the line once your child’s been brought into the world, you’ll have that crucial document to refer back to.
But—and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough—just as with a surrogacy agreement,
In the UK, a platonic co parenting agreement drawn up and signed prior to the child’s birth is not legally binding.
Your platonic co parenting agreement is still valuable, because it helps you identify potential disagreements, and establishes moral accountability in the presence of a lawyer.
Yes, to reiterate: in the UK, the agreement will not be enforceable by law.
And that is why you need trust in your prospective co parent—although of course I hope you wouldn’t select someone to have a child with if you hadn’t any misgivings about them whatsoever!
Who will be our child’s legal parent?
In the UK, the woman who carries the baby is automatically recognised as the legal parent at the time of birth, and is registered as such on their birth certificate.
This of course applies to surrogacy, too. The surrogate must officially relinquish her legal motherhood for the commissioning parents to be legally recognised. Thankfully, only in extremely rare circumstances does this not pan out as planned.
However, you may choose to change who has legal parenthood, depending on your circumstances and the makeup of your family.
For example, if a single woman wishes to coparent with a man, he may also become the child’s legal parent by being named on the birth certificate, either at the time of registration (at which he must be present) or through a statutory declaration of acknowledgement of parentage.
British law allows a maximum of two legal parents, so if you’re looking to platonically coparent with more than one person you’ll need to think long and hard about which of them is granted parental responsibility.
Again, this is where a platonic co parenting agreement is invaluable.
For example, if a single woman wishes to electively coparent with a gay couple who are married or in a civil partnership, only one of the couple may be registered as legal parent on the birth certificate alongside the mother.
That being said, there’s leeway insofar as a third party may assume parental responsibility in their role as a legal stepparent, or indeed by way of a court order.
So while they won’t be a legal parent on the birth certificate, they could very well have an equal say when it comes to major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
That’s why you need to think hard not only about your potential platonic coparent, but also their partner, if they have one.
Platonic co parenting is a huge decision—but the rewards can be immeasurable
Choosing a prospective co parent is a huge undertaking.
It’s on a par with deciding who you will marry—in fact probably more so, given that together you’re bringing a new life into the world for which you’ll shoulder responsibility equally, as a team, through both the good times and the bad.
You must be totally transparent in your expectations of your potential coparent, as of course you should ask them to be with you.
If you do it right and maintain open and honest communication at all times, there’s no reason whatsoever the two of you can’t platonically co parent in harmony, raising a happy and thriving child who goes on to excel at whatever they put their mind to!Tags: Surrogacy, co parenting, elective co parenting, platonic co parenting, SMBC, platonic co parenting contract, co parenting agreement