By Douglas J. Manning, Partner, Certified Specialist in Family Law
Statistics reveal that fewer and fewer couples are choosing marriage and therefore more and more couples are choosing to live in common-law relationships. Perhaps they think it will be less complicated if things don’t work out and they decide to go their separate ways.
Now, there is a small, but growing, movement to avoid emotional entanglements altogether and live life alone. But what happens if a person (man or woman) wants to have a child or children yet has no interest in partnering with the person whom they choose to “join” to create a child?
Yes, there is invitro fertilization and artificial insemination; sperm donors and egg donations, but what if you want to raise the child with two parents, just not at the same time and in the same place? There is a small but growing movement of people seeking others to share the financial, social and emotional responsibilities inherent in raising that child but without the romantic and relationship issues. These potential parent-pioneers consider co-parenting much in the same way that separated parents split up the child care responsibilities and parenting schedule but without all the disentanglement issues that arise when a couple splits up. These “parenting couples” are bypassing the marriage part that usually comes before the children arrive on the scene.
Individuals yearning to be a parent but without the traditional relationship building that usually precedes the act of procreation can search out other, similarly-minded individuals at websites such as Modamily.com where they can connect with potential parenting partners.
A number of people who consider this type of parenting option are usually in their late 30’s or 40’s and have dedicated what might be considered the traditional child rearing years to obtaining an education and career development and advancement. Now that they are where they want to be career-wise they don’t wish to waste their time (or they are uncomfortable with) the traditional methods of seeking out partners (what used to be called “dating”) or they have decided that they don’t want to complicate their lives with emotional entanglements though they are willing to take on the responsibilities of raising a child though with help through sharing the commitment with the other half of the creation couple.
Other websites dedicated to individuals looking for this non-traditional path to family “creation” include Coparents.com and MyAlternativeFamily.com. Those looking for a parenting match on these or similar websites are asked to complete a profile with questions more geared to their parenting styles and philosophies of child raising than the typical types of questions one finds on dating sites. The questions are more about lifestyle, beliefs and values than eye colour, income and height. Other obvious considerations in looking for a co-parenting partner would include how much time each parent is going to dedicate to raising the child and how far away they are going to live from each other. If each parent has a vision of equal time with the child on, say, an alternating week basis then they probably can’t live in different provinces and probably ideally should be living in the same community or at least nearby.
What happens when the child becomes of school age? – Will he or she be able to attend the same school throughout the school year? Will both parents have to live in the school district? What about medical and dental appointments? – will the parents agree to use the same dentist and doctor to ensure consistency in these services for the child?
As you can see there could be an additional layer of complications in attempting to co-parent a child from a distance and we have not yet considered the long term consequences for the child.
Have you figured out how a marriage and a horror movie are alike?
- They both cost a lot of money;
- They both involve a lot of screaming; and
- In both, usually, only one person survives at the end.