Co-parenting is the term given to a scenario where individuals wish to conceive a child together but are neither in a relationship or ever intend to be.  The situation can arise where, for example, a lesbian or gay couple wish to have a child with the assistance of a third party and it is agreed that the third party is to have some involvement in the child’s upbringing.  It can also be two parties who are friends and feel they could raise a child well together.

The law is complicated in this area but it is important to know that the law only permits a child to have two legal parents. In co-parenting, who the legal parents are will depend on the legal status of any couple involved and also how/where conception takes place.  Some scenarios permit election of the parenthood for the child, whereas others do not.

If a person is a non-legal parent he or she may be able to acquire Parental Responsibility which enables that person to make key decisions in the child’s upbringing, i.e. consent to medical treatment, education etc.  If they are married or civil partners with one of the legal parents, this process is straightforward but otherwise a parental responsibility or child arrangements order is required.