Family and parenting relationships have always taken many different forms, and with each passing year, the legal rights and responsibilities of non-traditional family structures have become more commonly recognized.
With this increased openness and flexibility, more people are reconsidering what they actually want in a parenting partner—and what they want for their children.
What is platonic parenting?
Platonic parenting, also called “elective co-parenting,” happens when two or more people seek to raise a child together without having a romantic, physically intimate, or sexual relationship.
Platonic parenting is based on the understanding that what matters most for children is that they have parents who love and support them—and that love and support can happen whether or not the parents are romantically involved.
Everyone has different priorities in life. For some, a romantic relationship isn’t high on the list—or even on the list at all.
That doesn’t mean raising a family shouldn’t be a goal, though, nor does it mean that these parents have to take on the considerable task of single parenting.
Platonic parenting represents a way to raise a family while providing children—and parents—with a loving support system. These platonic partners could be longtime friends who know they both want children but don’t want to wait for the “right” romantic partner. Some platonic partners also meet through websites that connect people looking for non-romantic partners.
Regardless of how the parents meet, what unites these relationships is their mutual agreement and commitment to raising a child or children together.
Platonic parenting and divorced couples
Divorced couples who amicably separated and co-parent their children sometimes refer to their new relationship as “platonic parenting.” While this relationship can indeed be platonic, this situation is fundamentally different given their previous romantic and sexual relationship.
Whether you’re entering a platonic parenting arrangement with a known partner already or are seeking to start a family with a yet unknown platonic partner, platonic parenting requires careful, intentional planning.
Trust and clear communication are crucial to these relationships. Platonic parenting partners need a clear parenting agreement that covers all aspects of raising a family together, some of which include:
- How will you handle living arrangements and the financial costs of raising your child?
- How will parenting time be allocated?
- What are the parenting philosophies of each partner?
- What are your goals for your child’s education and extracurricular activities?
- Will religion be part of your family’s life? Will you maintain family traditions around events and holidays, or will you create your own?
- Will you spend holidays with extended family?
- What kind of relationship will you and your platonic partner have with extended family?
- What happens if one of you wants to move?
If you and your partner have children from previous relationships, your plan should include how those responsibilities will impact your parenting agreement.
Finally, while you and your platonic partner aren’t romantically involved, you’ll want to discuss how outside romantic relationships will impact your family. You should discuss how you’ll introduce new romantic partners to your family and what things might look like if one of you decides to marry or enter into a long-term romantic relationship, and what might happen if half-siblings are involved in the future.
While you might not think to talk these decisions over with your lawyer, a family law attorney who is experienced with complex family structures can help you make sense of what questions you should ask and what plans you should make to protect your family.
Starting your family through platonic parenting
If you and your platonic partner don’t have children yet but are looking to start your family, you should have open, transparent discussions about how both of you want to handle this journey.
Some platonic parenting partners seek adoption as a way to grow their families. Others may consider in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures to have their children.
While each family should decide what feels right for them, it’s crucial to have shared expectations for whichever process they choose. If one of the partners becomes pregnant, their pregnancy and childbirth plan should clearly articulate what kind of support and participation their partner will provide.
What’s more, when it comes to parental rights and responsibilities, gamete donors (donors of sperm, eggs, or embryos) and gestational carriers need to carefully follow legal procedures to make sure the intended parents’ parental rights are honored.
State rules can also make these options more complicated, so it’s helpful to know, in advance, what your options for family formation look like, and whether there will need to be legal documents prepared and executed in advance.
Multi-parent families are becoming increasingly common, but they require thorough legal preparation. If you’re using donor gametes, surrogacy, and ART to build your family, the experienced family law attorneys at Jacobs Berger can help you navigate legal complexities so your parental rights are secure.
Legal support for your family
Parents who are going through a divorce or dissolving a romantic relationship will need to address custody questions as part of the process—but platonic parents seeking to start a family without having a previous romantic relationship should also plan to address legal issues upfront.
When you collaborate on a parenting agreement that addresses each person’s rights and responsibilities, you can build a stronger foundation for your family.
The process of creating and signing a co-parenting agreement encourages both parents to think through the nitty-gritty details of their parenting arrangement. It also creates a strong foundation that both parties can refer back to and helps a judge understand what your family initially envisioned.
In New Jersey, the courts make decisions according to what’s in the child’s best interest. While a signed co-parenting agreement can be beneficial in showing each party’s intentions to a judge, some parts of a co-parenting agreement may not be enforceable in New Jersey courts.
Work with our New Jersey family law firm
The experienced family law attorneys at Jacob’s Berger, LLC have extensive experience working with parents in complex family structures. Our team can help you find creative solutions that encourage collaboration and support amicable family relationships.
If you’re considering entering into a platonic parenting arrangement, Jacobs Berger is ready to support you at every step of the process.
Contact us to get started with a strategic planning session.