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If you are considering building your family through co-parenting, the expert family law solicitors at JMW can help. Chat with our co-parenting specialists and you can discuss your situation and learn more about the options available to you and your family.

Speak to us today by calling us on 0345 872 6666 or filling in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

About Co-Parenting

Co-parenting allows people not involved in a relationship or traditional family structure to raise a biological child together and is another way in which people of any sexual orientation can extend their family. For some, it is preferable to a donation or surrogacy arrangement, in which the other adult(s) involved in the conception rarely have an ongoing role in the child's life.

There are many factors to consider when entering into a co-parenting arrangement. The first is to decide whether you both wish to be legal parents and, if so, to make sure that the arrangements for conception provide for that. 


If conception takes place naturally, through intercourse, both biological parents will be legal parents. If the birth mother is not married or in a civil partnership and insemination takes place outside of a licensed clinic, the biological father will also be the legal father. This may not be what you want to happen.

If the insemination takes place in a clinic, it will depend upon what forms are signed as to whether or not the biological father also acquires legal parenthood. Check out our dedicated page for more information about legal parenthood.

Legal parenthood has important effects in a number of different areas, including:

  • Inheritance
  • Nationality
  • The obligation (or not) to make child maintenance payments
  • The ability to make a court application about the child without special permission

Parental Responsibility

You need to consider whether you wish for both biological parents to have parental responsibility for the child. If both parents are named on the birth certificate, both will have parental responsibility. If the father is not named on the birth certificate, he will not acquire parental responsibility automatically and will need to obtain it through other means. Click here for information as to how this can be done. If either parent has a partner, you would both have to think about whether you would want them to acquire parental responsibility as well. The various ways by which this can be achieved are set out here.

Co-Parenting Agreements

Many people involved in a co-parenting arrangement elect to have a written co-parenting agreement.

A co-parenting agreement can set out:

  • What role you will each play in the child's care and upbringing
  • How their time will be divided between you
  • How you will approach specific aspects of the child's upbringing such as their religion or education

The agreement can be as detailed or as flexible as you want, depending on your circumstances.

Co-parenting agreements are not legally binding, and will not be determinative in the event of a dispute, though sometimes they can assist the court in understanding what you had agreed would be best for the child and why.

Drafting a co-parenting agreement in advance of conception can facilitate discussions about what everyone expects and wants from the arrangement, and help flag up areas of disagreement. This can help you decide whether you are compatible co-parents and whether your aims are sufficiently similar. Discussing such issues helps to minimise the chances of significant dispute in the future.

It is never possible to legislate for everything in advance and of course circumstances change, but knowing you share the same goals and values can minimise the chances of serious disputes in the future.

Is a co-parenting agreement legally binding?

A co-parenting agreement is not a legal contract and so, in that sense, it is not binding. However, it performs an important role for individuals seeking to build a family through co-parenting.

Drawing up the agreement is itself a very valuable process. The act of recording important decisions in writing can help flush out potential areas of dispute or aspects of the arrangement where there are differences of understanding. The agreement should be put together before conception so that potential issues are worked out in a calm and unpressurised way.

If a dispute about arrangements for the child were to arise between co-parents, the agreement can provide a useful indication of what the adults’ intentions were before embarking on the process. If the court becomes involved in a dispute, its paramount consideration would be the welfare of the child, rather than seeking to hold the parties to the agreement. However, the agreement would be a useful piece of evidence to deepen the court’s understanding.

Why Choose JMW?

The family law team at JMW is highly regarded throughout the UK and we are here to provide the support and guidance you need in relation to any matter concerning co-parenting. We are highly experienced in this often complex area of law and take a proactive and understanding approach to give you the very best chance of securing the outcome you are after.

We are here to make the process as stress-free as possible and will give you the peace of mind that everything is progressing as it should be. 

Talk to us

Contact us today to find out more about our services and how we can help with any matter concerning co-parenting. Give us a call on 0345 872 6666 or filling in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.