Bill Singer, Esq.

Judges Starting to Uphold Co-Parenting Agreements

In a groundbreaking decision, on February 22, 2013, the Kansas Supreme Court found that a co-parenting agreement between two unmarried people is enforceable and is in the best interest of the child. As a result, the court held that the agreement governs the couple’s relationship with the child.  The court recognized that through such a co-parenting agreement a legal parent could surrender her constitutional right to raise a child and share it with a non-legal parent.

While this case only applies to Kansas citizens, it is a significant change in judicial attitudes to co-parenting agreements.  Previously, in other states, courts have found co-parenting agreements to be unenforceable and non-binding. (At best, an indication of “intent” of the parties.)

The Kansas case will serve as a positive precedent which could be persuasive for judges asked in the future to give deference to co-parenting agreements reached by two or more adults to share the rights, responsibilities and joy of raising a child together.

People considering having and raising a child together, but who are not married or in another form of a legally recognized relationship, should read this decision as further proof of the importance of setting forth their understandings about the child/children in writing.  If a non-biological, non-legal parent wants to assure that her or his rights will be respected and protected, it is imperative for all parties to consult with competent counsel to memorialize their intents.

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