Co-parenting after divorce VS Co-parenting by choice

Co-parenting after divorce VS Co-parenting by choice

Co-parenthood, whether voluntary or resulting from divorce, is a consequence of human beings’ ability to adapt their lives to their needs. When we talk about a co-parent, the concept unconsciously relates to the idea of shared responsibility after the divorce of a couple who have had one or more children. On the other hand, the notion of co-parenting is not limited to this narrow definition, it also concerns other situations with more complex characteristics. In order to clear up any possible confusion about these two types of co-parenting, it is important to examine their specific features separately before comparing them.

Co-parenting after divorce

What is it about?

While before the 1980s, custody was granted to one of the parents, today’s society advocates a new form of parental involvement after separation: co-parenting. The latter is the result of the will of both parties to remain a parent despite the break-up. For the sake of their mutual child, co-parents force themselves to maintain an objective relationship, even after a disagreement. Although it is not easy, ex-spouses must agree and find a compromise on both the child’s education and overall well-being.

In this type of relationship, it is not a matter of ceasing to be the parents of their children, instead it is a matter of marital separation and the preservation of the roles of each of the parents. As for the co-parents, this situation is characterized by the shared exercise of parental authority, dialogue and mutual respect. Imposed by the law in the event of separation, it avoids the total dissolution of the family, as it was the case in the past.

What about the child in this situation?

In children, parental separation always has negative impacts. Additionally, the concept of co-parenting after separation was introduced to better protect their well-being. Nevertheless, this transition creates a huge upheaval in the child’s life, especially when the family unit he recognizes no longer exists. Depending on the court’s decision, he may stay with one of his parents for a while and with the other for the rest of the week. In order to minimize the effect of such change, he receives the same attention from his parents as before.

What is voluntary co-parenting?

Defining the voluntary co-parenting arrangement

The choice to experience co-parenting is the result of a desire to have children without necessarily being in a relationship. This notion does not imply the existence of any feelings between the two parents, on the contrary, it involves a mutual contract in order to collaborate in the conception and education of the child. If both parents have participated in the procreation, they may have legal rights over the baby, but do not engage in a marriage contract. 

Apart from the biological link, another form of co-parenting is emerging. It concerns gay and lesbian couples or a homosexual and a heterosexual couple. In this case, the co-parent who has no kinship with the child assumes the role of a social parent. In both cases, the commitment and responsibility of each parent is governed by a preliminary co-parenting contract. Whether it is custody, vacation days or the financial obligations related to each party, everything is defined in advance.

What about the best interests of the child?

If the co-parents decide to have a child as part of a co-parenting arrangement, it is because they already feel ready to raise him/her and give him/her all the love necessary for his/her psychological development. After the birth, each party assumes its share of responsibility ensuring the child’s best interests. Since he/she is accustomed to living alternately with his/her two or even four parents, the child will perceive the situation as normal.

Voluntary co-parenting versus that resulting from a separation

Definition differences

By definition, co-parenting refers to the same family form, but the difference lies in its composition. Even if in the voluntary co-parenting arrangement the child can have up to 4 parents, a child after separation is forced to have only two parents. The responsibility of the voluntary co-parents is defined long before the baby is born.

Unlike divorced people, there will be no surprises or organization problems. For former spouses, it is up to the court to determine the duties, custody or even obligations of each parent, and this, only after their separation.

What about the best interests of the child?

For a child, the voluntary co-parenting arrangement presents less psychological pressure since he or she will be accustomed to this form of family from the moment he or she is born. Since they are used to living in a household where both mother and father are present, the children of divorced people living in co-parenting may have a difficult time adapting to the new situation.

Voluntary or imposed, the concept of co-parenting presents risks for both the child and the parents. In addition, psychologists Harry Timmermans, Richard Cloutier and Loraine Filion have developed charters to ensure its success. Do you want to have a child with a co-parent? Coparentalys, an online meeting site, for co-parents is designed to help you.