What is co-parenting? At its most basic, it’s putting the needs and well-being of the children you are responsible for before everything else – even though the two parents may no longer be in a relationship with each other.
A co-parenting arrangement is where you either currently parent, or are planning to parent a child with someone you are not in a relationship with that sets out how the relationship will work.
What is expected of you as a parent will depend on your situation and it is important, for the child’s sake, that the parents discuss the relationship and what the co-parenting expectations of each party are.
It may be that you were previously in a relationship with the other person and you may choose to set out in writing how you will parent together now that your relationship has ended.
The other parent may be someone that you have never been with or plan to be in a relationship with, for example, a friend, and you may be embarking on a new parenting relationship together.
It might be that either or both parents are in relationships with other people and the intention is that there will be three or four parental figures. In this situation, it is important to understand how legal parental responsibility is granted in the UK and that only two people can be recognised as legal parents.
If you are entering into a co-parenting arrangement you may wish to consider creating a co-parenting agreement document.
This comprehensive document will set out your agreed intentions for the future and there are various co-parenting agreement examples available to utilise. We find that preparing a co-parenting agreement helps our clients identify any mismatch of expectations and can help everybody involved get on the same page quickly.
A co-parenting agreement is not a legally binding document. However, it can help any disputes be resolved more smoothly with all parties being aware of what they have agreed and the expectations of them.
The agreement will be bespoke to your particular arrangement, but our co-parenting solicitors can help you draft a document for all parties. Examples of what it might cover include
– What role each parent will play in the child’s life
– Who the child will live with and where
– What each parent’s financial responsibility is
– Expectations around education
– How much time the parents will spend together with the child
Co-parenting and legal parenthood
It is important to be clear that a co-parenting agreement does not grant legal parenthood or parental responsibility. The law can be complex in recognising who is a child’s legal parent, and if necessary, our co-parenting solicitors can guide you through this process.
When entering a co-parenting arrangement, it is important you are clear about who the two (and only two!) legal parents are. If a person is a legal parent it means they are financially responsible for the child and it can also determine inheritance rights.
In the UK, the person who gives birth to the child is always recognised as a legal parent – unless they choose to relinquish this status through adoption or parental order. The other legal parent will be determined by the status of the parties involved.
Co-parenting and parental responsibility
Beyond the financial aspects of parenthood, parental responsibility is also an important area to be clear on. Parental responsibility provides the right to make important decisions about the welfare and general upbringing of the child.
It is possible to be a legal parent without having parental responsibility and vice versa. If a person is named on a child’s birth certificate, that person will automatically have legal parental responsibility for the child, unless they relinquish it.
Currently, in the UK, there is no limit to the number of people who can have parental responsibility. It can be acquired after the birth of the child for those who do not automatically acquire parental status.
How Henry Hyams co-parenting solicitors can help
If a co-parenting arrangement is being entered into, we advise seeking legal advice. This will ensure that everyone involved will understand to whom legal parenthood will fall in their particular situation and other legal statuses that are required are obtained for those who do not currently have them.
At Henry Hyams, our co-parenting solicitors in Leeds can provide advice and walk you through the process of setting up a co-parenting agreement that is suitable and accepted by all parties responsible for the child’s raising.
Should you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our co-parenting solicitors in Leeds, please contact us on the email below or contact us on 0113 2432288.
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