Co-parenting - it takes a modern village to raise a modern child
Gay couples don't stumble into parenthood by accident — it's always a deliberate act (and usually a complicated one too).
Like any modern family, there are many ‘ways to grow a family’ and Co-parenting is becoming just one of those many ways.
- Back in the day, the term Co-parenting was traditionally only used to describe a situation where a parent had split from their previous partner following a separation or divorce, but who were still actively involved in the lives of their shared children.
- In the past, Gay Parents were mainly women or men, who had children from former heterosexual relationships and who had later separated or divorced, but who were still actively involved in the lives of their shared children.
- Today, Co-parenting is becoming just another way of creating a family for many gay, lesbian, or gender diverse people often because it’s a way of having your own biological child, and being actively involved in its life and development with other adults who are committed to helping you grow a happy child, (and all without having to go through the uncertainty and financial stress of surrogacy).
Regardless of whether you're Co-parenting from circumstances or choice, the parents agree to put the needs of the child first.
Meet Chris & Mirko, Anna & Jennifer
It really does take a modern village to raise a modern child.
Meet Chris and his partner Mirko.
Today they have a three-year-old daughter and they share her parenting responsibilities with their two female friends, Anna and Jennifer. Chris also shares additional parenting responsibilities with their 18-month-old son, while Mirko is just the Uncle. But it wasn’t always like that.
Wait - feeling confused and starting to need a flow chart to keep track of who's who and how?
Relax - it's Co-parenting.
A proud gay dad, if you ever ask Chris about his daughter he'll show you what can feel like 100+ photos of her (that he just happened to have on hand from last weekend's photoshoot). He'll also tell you,
“I always knew I would be a parent, I didn’t know how but it had to happen. I love kids and I love family - it's who I am and it's super important to me”.
As a child, Chris helped his own single mother raise 3 younger siblings, but when he began dating, his plans for future fatherhood seemed to be in conflict with his dating experience. That was until he met his partner Mirko, who was already a proud and active ‘Funcle’ (aka the Fun Uncle) to his own nephews and nieces.
Together, over the next two years, they looked for ways to build their own family. They discussed fostering, looked seriously into adopting, and even ran some very detailed numbers on the cost of altruistic surrogacy in Australia.
The biological link
Chris wanted a biological link to a child of his own, whereas Mirko had no especially strong feelings either way, as long as he could be the fun dad.
“Through mutual friends, we met a lesbian couple Anna and Jennifer who also wanted to have a baby of their own. At first, we just shared our respective frustrations about growing our own family and the cost of surrogacy, over weekend dinners together. Over time it was clear they were looking for ways to create their on family too and we all became really good friends”.
Over time, they began to discuss if they ‘could use each other's reproductive capabilities’ to have a child?
They talked about each other's parenting expectations, their hopes for the future, compared ideas about how their own parents and circles of friends might react to them becoming parents, and discussed the types of support each had and might need.
Over time they all slowly edged a little closer towards the idea of them all becoming parents and Co-parenting. Eventually, they had separate discussions with a solicitor - both to get clarity on their important decision and to formalise their shared plans for the future.
Happiness comes in pairs
- That was two years ago and since then, little Miss ‘Charlotte Lousie’ arrived in the world - daughter to two proud and doting dads Chris and Mirko.
- A little over 18 months later Little Master ‘Samual Elijah’ arrived - son to widely happy Anna and Jennifer.
Together they are happy Co-parents, and another modern family.
Who is Co-parenting in Australia today?
Simply put, Co-parenting is an arrangement (formal and in writing or informal but clearly understood) made between two or more people to raise a child together, when the two biological parents are not in a romantic relationship with one another.
Single and Co-parenting
- This could be a single man and a single woman (heterosexual or LGBTQI+ ) who have not found a partner and want to have a child.
Partnered and Co-parenting
- This could be a same-sex couple and a single person of the opposite sex, (in this case the child might be brought up by 3 parents, for example, two fathers and one mother)
- This could be a lesbian couple and a gay couple who agree to raise a child together which might be biologically related to one of the lesbian mothers and one of the gay fathers, (in this case the child might be brought up by 4 parents).
Gay couples don't stumble into parenthood by accident. It's always a deliberate act.
How we support modern Co-parents
Everyone who comes to us as a Co-parent has given parenting a great deal of thought, has the resources to care for a child and all share the same commitment - to make sure those they love are protected and provided for financially, in case a parent unexpectedly becomes disabled or passes away.
Where Co-parents start their insurance thinking
Most parents start with the idea of having a realistic picture of ‘what they want family life to look like, if they are unexpectedly disabled or no longer around’.
Pro Tip: As an absolute minimum, we say make sure you have adequate life and disability insurance in place to buy a nice place to live, to replace your income for at least a year, and consider what it will cost to safely provide for your children (and a partner or guardian to care for them) through to at least the end of their education.
You can read more about How Much is Enough, here.
Protect your family's future
Co-parents put particular time into making sure insurance policy beneficiaries are clearly identified and they make sure they get clear on their own estate planning needs as well, to make sure there is a family backup plan in place, just in case.
Professional Advice makes life easier
Having an ongoing relationship with a specialist financial adviser like the team behind Unusual Risks Insured, means they never lose track of important paperwork and policies, they can make updates as needed and they don't have to constantly re-explain their family structure to a stranger whose attitudes toward modern family life might not match their own.
- An ongoing professional advice relationship also provides a family a clear and immediate pathway to managing an insurance claim too - if the unthinkable were ever to happen.
In short, taking control of your family’s future means peace of mind - knowing you have done everything you can as a parent, to protect and provide for your family — biological and logical.
Read our blog Single Parents Need Life Insurances Too.
Some of the advantages of taking control of your growing families insurance needs
Whether you're Co-parenting by circumstance or choice, taking a deliberate approach to growing and protecting your family has clear benefits. Each person has different needs and abilities and each situation has unique risks to manage.
If you’re Co-parenting by circumstance post-separation
- Taking out a separate life insurance policy on your Co-parent places you in the driver's seat. Rather than risk future confusion or disagreements about what percentage of a policy payout goes to who and when, having a separate policy makes your expectations clear from the start.
- You're in the position to determine who the policy beneficiary should always be and to know how much the benefit payout will be.
- Additionally, when you're the policy owner/payer you know for a fact that the policy is being maintained and the premiums are up to date.
If you’re Co-parenting by choice
- You can decide how your own life insurance payout should be distributed, whether that's held in trust solely for the future benefit of your child or immediately split between a partner and your child.
- If you're a non-biological partner, you can control who is your nominated policy beneficiary (or beneficiaries) and better understand the future tax effects.
Regardless of how you might Co-parent, whether by circumstances or choice, putting the needs and best interest of the child you love first, is what guides your decisions.
And isn't that what a modern family should be about?
Where to now?