Co-Parenting Topics to Discuss

Parenting partnerships, or co-parenting as it’s often referred to isn’t something we just decide we want to do one day and make happen overnight. There are so many variables to consider and discuss prior to entering into a non-romantic parenting relationship with someone else. From the basics of responsibility to the more complex issues of education, living arrangements and of course, finances, co-parenting comes with a lot of obstacles. These obstacles can hopefully be avoided by careful planning ahead of time as well as having open conversations with your parenting partner prior to becoming parents.

Excerpted from a Parent Chat on

My granddaughter is 24, a nurse and expecting. She is not married to the father, but they’ve dating for a couple of years. She lives with him part-time and with her parents part-time. Everyone is happy about the baby. What the best way to encourage both parents in equally raising the child since they do not live together full-time and are not married?

Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann: Co-parenting is the term for parents who are not married or in a romantic relationship but are committed to raising a child together. I meet so many parents who are doing a great job co-parenting.

Aisha Sultan: It seems like you have some feelings about their situation. I’d be careful about giving them the impression that they might not be good parents because they aren’t married yet.

Dr. B: Co-parenting really requires a lot of maturity. I would recommend that legal custody issues be determined soon, while parents are still in a positive relationship. Often co-parenting becomes difficult after one or the other partner enters a separate romantic relationship. It’s very smart to get legal issues such as custody and child support clearly defined while parents are on positive terms together.

Aisha Sultan: Be an engaged and loving grandmother and offer to help out in whatever ways you are able.

Dr. B: Other issues to define clearly to each other include holidays, education, and faith tradition.

Our website is also a great resource of information and suggests what should be discussed prior to entering into a parenting partnership. Below is an excerpt from our “legal issues” portion of our co-parenting issues guide.

Of all the issues that parenting partners need to address, the legal issues are often the most complex. Issues such as drafting a co-parenting agreement, understanding what the law requires of parents, and even figuring out just who is a legal parent can vary by jurisdiction. In the United States alone, where family law is regulated by the individual states, this means 50 sets of rules for prospective parenting partners!

Fortunately, FamilyByDesign is here to help untangle some of this complexity. Our state-by-state analysis will help you figure out the most important issues you should consider for a parenting partnership in your state, and we’ll more broadly tackle the big-picture issues like co-parenting agreements and known donor agreements. Want more info? Ask a question to our legal expert on parenting partnerships!

[Note: Because every person’s situation is different, and because the law frequently changes, is not clearly established, or is interpreted in different ways by different courts, you should not rely on the information presented herein for legal advice about your specific situation. We always recommend a consultation with local legal counsel before taking action.]


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