Michael Doyle, MD

Dear Michael: What’s the best method of conception for co-parents, NI or AI?

Dear Drake: whether you decide that Natural Insemination (NI) or Artificial Insemination (AI) is the right method for you and your co-parent will depend on many issues. You can find a comparison of the different methods of conception for co-parenting partners in FamilyByDesign’s Conception Options Chart.  Best of luck!

Colin Weil

Dear Colin: I’m a woman in her 30s and considering a parenting partnership with a guy in his 40s who I was previously seeing. However, he didn’t want to live under the same roof while we tried to get pregnant and wouldn’t agree to marriage once we determined that we wanted to raise our child in Canada (I’m American). He also misled me on his age – do you think these are red flags that suggest we shouldn’t co-parent?

Dear Jey,

It sounds like there is a lot of complexity in your relationship, having started as lovers.  As such, before deciding you can co-parent with him, I think you need to finish processing your relationship with each-other.  Are you friendly exes?   Might you resume a romantic relationship down the line? Most importantly – do you both feel the same way about the answer to both questions?
Ultimately, there are two critical aspects to a strong co-parenting partnership: the relationship between the parents, and each parents’ commitment to the child.  None of your issues say much to me about his ability to parent, but all of them suggest there is a lot of uncertainly in terms of your relationship, what you want from each other and expect from each other.  Before you consider co-parenting, I would suggest you clarify all of that first.


Bill Singer, Esq.

Dear Bill: I’m thinking about co-parenting but concerned the father could seek full custody. Could I have him sign a document stating he will never ask custody?

Dear Lilly:
I admire you for giving serious consideration to all possibilities before embarking on a co-parenting partnership. If your parenting partner will have legal status as a parent, he will have equal rights for custody and visitation. Generally, a right to custody includes decisions as to where the child lives, health issues, educational and religious choices.
When you ask if your parenting partner could surrender his right to custody, do you mean the right to have the child live with him or do you mean the full extent of all decisions about child rearing?
A court determines custody based on the best interest of the child.  A court will not be bound by an agreement that is not in the best interest of the child.
You need to consider what decisions about child rearing, if any, that you are willing to share with the child’s father.
Then, you and the father can construct an agreement which reflects those choices.  Backing up those decisions with facts and a rationale based on the child’s best interests will significantly increase the chance that a court will respect them.
So, the short answer to your question is that a court is unlikely to enforce an agreement that a father will never seek custody.  But with a well-documented, fact based agreement, a judge might seriously consider the decisions made by the parents.
Heidi Sadowsky

Dear Heidi: Was there something specific that made you “pull the trigger” on co-parenting and stop waiting for Mr. Right?

In the past, I thought I would activate my “back-up” plan at the age of 36.  When I turned 36, I still wasn’t in a serious relationship, but I was on the cusp of a major career change and didn’t think it was a good time to have a baby (and in the back of my mind, I was optimistic that I’d meet someone).

Fast forward to age 40…I was still not in a relationship but I had just finished school to become an RN and wanted to spend 1 year working to make sure I did the right thing.  One year later, I was fulfilled in my new career, still hadn’t met Mr. Right and heard my biological clock ticking so loud it kept me up at night.  I knew the time was right.  I’m still hopeful to meet someone, but figure I have the rest of my life for that.

Dorothy Greenfeld, LCSW

Dear Dorothy: My co-parent and I have made 6 attempts to get pregnant with no luck. How can I tell if I’m getting depressed by these failed efforts?

Dear Sarah: If you are depressed, you’re not alone – this is a common occurrence with failed attempts at fertility. Things to look out for include feelings of isolation / loneliness, a change in your eating or sleeping patterns, losing interest in your regular activities and constantly thinking about issues relating to your fertility all the time.  You may also experience changes in how you communicate with your co-parent (and others), even if you may not be aware of it.

If you feel like you’re having some or all of these symptoms of depression, a meeting with a counselor could prove to be very worthwhile.  Good luck!

Colin Weil

Dear Colin: What role does your extended family play in your child’s life?

My daughter is just as much a grandchild, niece or cousin as all of her cousins, regardless of their parenting models.  And that is to say – very connected. Though geographically most relatives aren’t close, she sees those who are frequently, and is in touch with the whole mishpacha virtually.
Colin Weil

Dear Colin: Your profile mentions that you first thought about single parenting. What made you decide not to pursue that path?

When I tried to visualize blending my work-life, which includes frequent late-nights and travel, with the kind of parent I wanted to be, I just couldn’t “see it.”  And paying others to raise my child had no appeal.

Bill Singer, Esq.

Dear Bill: What’s the difference between a co-parenting agreement and a sperm donor agreement?

Dear To Be or Not To Be:

The answer to your question is determining whether the sperm donor wants to be a parent or not. If the donor has the intention of playing a role as parent, you need a co-parenting agreement.  If the donor wants to be released from all rights and responsibilities, you need a sperm donor agreement explicitly extinguishing any claim by or against the donor. Note, however, that executing a sperm donor agreement doesn’t mean that the known donor cannot play a role in the child’s life.

Anthony Brown

Dear Anthony: I live in California, but my co-parent and our child live in New York. When it comes to financial obligations as a parent, which state’s laws will apply?

The answer depends on how long your child has lived in New York.  There is a federal statute, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act of 1997 which gives “exclusive and continuing” jurisdiction to a child custody matter and, for the purposes of this question, a support obligation issue, to the “home state” of the child.  This is defined as the state where the child has lived continuously for the last 6 months.  So if your child has lived continuously in New York for the last 6 months, the laws of New York will apply in determining your support obligations.


Bill Singer, Esq.

Dear Bill: What clause in a co-parenting agreement is typically the most important to draft carefully?

Dear Quizzical:
The only thing I can predict about co-parenting is that change will occur.  Changes in how each parent feels, changes in what the child needs and changes that no one could predict in advance.

My advice is to work hardest on sections regarding how you will jointly mediate and modify the agreement as your child grows.