Elective co-parenting: “A new way to family”?

| Dec 3, 2020 | Child custody and child support

They shared some important views on children, education and health. And both were also agreed that they did not want romance to interfere with parenting.

Jenica Anderson and Stephan DuVal – both in their late 30s – found each other on Modamily.com – a website and company headquartered about 30 miles northwest of Orange County in West Hollywood.

Family reimagined

The site promises “a new way to family” for singles who want to be parents, but don’t want romantic relationships with co-parents.

A recent news article said “the decision to have a child with someone you are not romantically involved with . . . remains a relatively new phenomenon.”

A research team headed by University of Cambridge Prof. Susan Golombok is studying the impact of elective co-parenting on children. She says “very early findings suggest that how well the parents communicate with each other and collaborate over childcare seems to make a big difference.”

Convoluted romance

Anderson says she “really didn’t want a romantic relationship” because “it would convolute things.”

She said she wanted to have a child “with somebody who wanted to be a doting father and wasn’t just having a baby for me.”

DuVal shared similar thoughts: “I hoped that, maybe, I’d find romance eventually, but [for me] it was time to start a family.”

Living a nightmare

However, the article about the phenomenon also profiled Kate, a 37-year-old who chose elective co-parenting, but is now entangled in a California custody dispute she says is “the biggest imaginable nightmare.”

While this form of parenting might be new, it has the potential to give rise to familiar family law problems when the parenting partnership frays.

State law hasn’t carved out parental rights for unmarried people who choose non-romantic co-parenting partnerships. If the partnership unravels, the mom and dad might both find themselves in positions not unlike the positions many unmarried parents occupy: unmarried mothers often struggle to get child support from fathers and unmarried fathers often struggle to gain child custody or visitation.