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Relationship

Elective Co-Parenting

Raising children is not typically about drawing up a contract with a non-romantic partner, but this option is becoming more popular. Elective co-parenting is an arrangement made between two people who enjoy each other, but are not romantically involved to raise a child. It is a play on friends with benefits in which the partner shares the benefits of child rearing through emotional, physical, and psychological support. Those who choose this option often have not found the perfect romantic partner, yet want to form a family. This is even growing in social and legal legitimacy.

There are more services coming to the forefront to register profiles for matchmaking to create such co-parenting contracts. Most often, this forms with a gay man and straight woman, though there are multiple other pairings. The websites can vary from seeking egg or sperm donors to someone willing to share custodial rights. These are paid sites that can range from 20 plus dollars a month to thousands. When searching for a platonic partner, light is shed on the differences between a parenting and romantic relationship. It is no longer about romantic gestures or sexual chemistry, though there may be a bit of courting at first. It is instead a release from the idea that parents must be lovers and best friends.

Just because romance is not involved does not mean a spark cannot exist. This is something that causes a feeling in the gut that this stranger could be someone to raise a child with, even become family at some point. It is no longer about romance or even physical beauty, but a chemistry of someone you can parent with. This turns it into a pragmatic decision of managing finances, deciding on holiday celebrations, and potential sports options. A potential partner should also share enthusiasm for things like being involved in school. This can be openly discussed ahead of time instead of like in a romantic relationship where it is taboo to discuss these things at the wrong time. This also means you are choosing what is best for your child, not what you want romantically. The person has to be a parent, not everything else.

These types of relationships are not about sex or romance, so these cannot be default settings when an issue arises. This leads to talking about and working out problems faster and in adult ways instead of default sex. There are typically formalized agreements with childcare, finances, religion, holidays, and education discussed ahead of time. This can lead to fewer conflicts over big decisions. The most important thing to remember is that we must be honest with ourselves, what we want, and what we can expect.

While the intensity involved in these types of negotiations may seem cold, the risks are lower because everything is discussed ahead of time. This does not mean there are not risks as one parent may fight the agreement which is not necessarily legally binding. Things can change, new relationships form, and moves need to be made which can lead to problems. There are positives and negatives of entering such a contract, just as there is with having a child with someone you are involved with romantically. This is why the decision is so personal in nature. Make the choice that works best in your life, but go in with your eyes wide open.

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