With societal attitudes about love, marriage, and parenting constantly evolving, our perception of what constitutes “family” is becoming more and more flexible. As family structures become more varied, we’re learning that when it comes to raising children, the marital status, gender, and even relationship status of the parents matters less and less.
What children need most are parents who are committed to loving and supporting them. Whether or not the parents have a romantic relationship with one another is immaterial to their ability to raise healthy and happy kids, so long as their co-parenting relationship is solid.
One new child-rearing trend that highlights this notion is platonic parenting. Also known as co-parenting, platonic parenting involves two or more people who agree to raise children together without a romantic connection. And we are discovering this nontraditional style of parenting can produce children who are just as well adjusted as those raised in a happily married household.
An alternative arrangement
Platonic parenting was pioneered within the LGBTQ community, where until recently same-gender couples couldn’t legally marry and didn’t have the court system to make up rules for them about post-breakup parenting. Following a romantic split, they were forced to create innovative, outside-the-box parenting arrangements on their own.
More recently, platonic parenting has spread to married couples looking to more effectively raise their children following divorce. By maintaining an amicable and cooperative relationship—sometimes even cohabitating—a couple whose romantic connection has dissolved can not only spare their children the trauma of divorce, but they may also find the arrangement is much healthier for them. Indeed, couples who stay unhappily married for the children’s sake often find the arrangement can be even more harmful to the whole family than a clean divorce.
And now, more and more people are choosing to raise children together using platonic parenting, without ever having a romantic relationship to begin with.
Platonic parenting is particularly enticing for those who find themselves moving through their prime child-rearing years in the absence of a romantic relationship. For people who want to be parents, but aren’t interested in having a romantic partner, or simply haven’t found the right one yet, platonic parenting can be the ideal solution.
While raising a child on your own is perfectly acceptable, child rearing is an immense responsibility that lasts a lifetime. To help diffuse the tremendous demands parenting involves—and avoid the pressure to rush into romance—some individuals are turning to close friends in search of a co-parent.
And those who can’t find a suitable co-parent among their existing network of friends can use a number of websites dedicated to platonic parenting matchmaking. Websites like FamilyByDesign, CoParents.com, and Modamily enable prospective parents around the world to connect with one another to start a family.
Typically these arrangements involve conceiving through artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization, and then raising the child in a platonic partnership. Some co-parents live separately and share custody, while others live together under the same roof like a traditional family.
There are even cases where the arrangement involves three or more platonic parents raising children together. Indeed, with today’s legal structures, people of all genders and sexual orientation are entering into a variety of platonic parenting relationships, putting a new spin on the notion of a blended family.
While platonic parenting might seem highly atypical and even controversial, given all of the work that goes into loving and raising children, it only makes sense that some would want to make parenting a team effort.
Just like any parenting arrangement, platonic parenting requires massive levels of trust, communication, and planning. The first step of the new partnership is for all parties to come up with a solid legal agreement governing the financial commitments and living situation.
Other issues to work out include how to handle new romantic relationships, if/how to incorporate platonic partners into family gatherings, along with all sorts of other basic ground rules. You’ll also need to talk about how to discuss the arrangement with any existing children and other family members, so everyone understands exactly what this new life will entail.
Create a legal foundation
With so many important agreements to be made, those seeking to create a platonic parenting arrangement should seek legal counsel at the outset of the relationship. A Personal Family Lawyer® specializes in helping you navigate these types of non-traditional partnerships, and we offer a wide array of estate planning tools to help define the legal rights and responsibilities of each individual involved.
Whether you’re seeking advice on planning a platonic parenting relationship, or you need us to draft legally binding co-parenting agreements, meet with a Personal Family Lawyer® to create the proper legal foundation for your new family.