Having children through co-parenting is an option with many advantages. Still, as good as it sounds, it's undeniable that it also poses challenges of its own.
Carrying out a co-parenting process with another person is not as simple as choosing a joint destination for your next holiday. It is a lifelong commitment that comes with many responsibilities, decisions and agreements.
This is why, before beginning kind of process, we at Copaping strongly recommend future co-parents speak with a specialised attorney. The next step would be to draw up a co-parenting agreement with each party's expectations and the responsibilities they are willing to take on.
This document is to guarantee the child's interests and well-being, and to avoid any potential misunderstandings between the co-parents in the future.
To help you with this procedure, we have spoken with Ana Miramontes, a Spanish lawyer that specialises in family law and director of Áncora Abogados. Ana goes into further detail on what a co-parenting agreement is and why it is so important to draw one up.
What is a co-parenting agreement?
A co-parenting agreement or plan is a document that lists the responsibilities and agreements reached by two people who have decided to be parents, but who are not a couple. In other words, two people without a shared life project who jointly decide to begin the process of becoming pregnant with, educating and raising a child and providing them with all he or she will need.
These two people wish to be parents independently, but have decided to begin the project together. The co-parenting plan lists this set of agreements between the future parents that are party to said project.
What should a co-parenting agreement include?
Given such an important life project as having a child, it would be better for the co-parents not to leave anything out.
For this reason, the co-parenting agreement should include everything that may be anticipated in a proper parenting agreement. In other words, it must address the same issues that a couple with children would consider should they stop being a couple (a separation or divorce, for instance.)
The issues that must be definitely included are: the type of agreement, the pregnancy, who will be the primary caregiver, daily cohabitation, the child's education, extracurricular activities, vacations, health, living expenses, etc. Ana Miramontes recommends "taking details to the extreme. The more specific an agreement, the better. This will make everything easier in the event of any future conflict between both parties."
According to the attorney, "the greatest amount of detail must go into the most common source of problems: money issues."
In next week's post you will be able to see, point by point, everything that a co-parenting agreement should include.
Other important issues regarding the co-parenting agreement
While we have discussed with Ana other important facets of the co-parenting agreement, it is important to remember that, in terms of legality, every case is unique and, depending on your country of residence, laws can be different for you. Thus, we recommend you never take our word for granted and seek legal counsel for your specific situation.
Is the co-parenting agreement a binding document?
According to attorney Ana Miramontes, "the co-parenting agreement is a binding document from the moment both parties sign it and it is put into effect by public deed. However, for it to be enforceable it must be made so by a a court of law in case of discrepancy. If necessary, the public authority would intervene as representative of the minors' rights."
Is it better to use the same lawyer for both parties?
This should be a decision of the contracting parties. One single attorney could do this as a mediator. But, if possible, it is advisable that each party has their own attorney.
If this is not possible, it may be appropriate to have a second mediating party, even if they are not an attorney (such as a coach or psychologist.)
What happens if more than two people are involved (such as a gay couple and a lesbian couple)?
In such cases, according to Ana Miramontes, the complexity increases considerably: "legally, only two of the involved people can be the parents; everything else must be set out through documents, enactments and commitments that our legislation in Spain would not directly endorse. It is not provided for in our law. We can, however, establish certain points and make them binding agreements, but they would not be parents in absolute terms," says the attorney.
In summary, we hope you find this article useful if you have made the decision to be a parent via co-parenting. After finding the right person or persons, the next step would be to have an honest conversation and draw up a co-parenting agreement.
As always, in order to assess your particular situation, we strongly recommend that you follow the advice of a family law expert in your city.
Had you ever heard of the co-parenting agreement?