top of page

Co-Parenting Agreements: A Guide for Raising Children Together


If you and a partner or ex-partner want to collectively raise a child, there are options available.

While second-parent adoption legally grants parenthood to a non-biological parent, not all states permit this, especially for same-sex or queer couples. In such cases, a co-parenting agreement becomes the viable option.

What Is a Co-Parenting Agreement?

A co-parenting agreement is a mutual understanding between two consenting adults about collectively raising one parent’s biological or adopted child. This contract outlines goals and rules for contributing to child care. It can cover various aspects including:

  • Discipline

  • Dating rules

  • Diet

  • Education

  • Electronics usage

  • Even arrangements in case of separation.

For divorced parents or those not sharing a home, it can also address child support, parenting time, health care, transportation, visitation, and holidays or school breaks. This agreement helps define the parenting relationship, promoting cooperation and structure.

Who Should Consider a Co-Parenting Agreement?

LGBTQ+ Relationships

In states where second-parent adoptions are limited for LGBTQ+ couples, a co-parenting agreement provides a way to agree on child-raising and establish legal rights for the non-biological parent.

Separated or Divorced Step-Parents:

For step-parents who played a significant role in raising their ex-partner’s children, a co-parenting agreement ensures they can remain a part of the children’s lives and share responsibilities.

Gay and Lesbian Couples with a Donor:

Some same-sex couples may want the sperm or egg donor to be involved in raising their child. A co-parenting agreement helps facilitate this arrangement.

Platonic Co-Parenting

For individuals who wish to have a child without a long-term romantic relationship, platonic co-parenting offers support in child-rearing and allows for an additional parenting figure.

Creating a Co-Parenting Agreement

Before pursuing a co-parenting agreement, ensure it aligns with your situation and review your state’s guidelines. You can create your own agreement or find templates online. Keep in mind that for legal purposes, it’s recommended to have a family attorney draft the agreement.


A co-parenting agreement provides a structured approach for individuals in non-traditional parenting arrangements. While it may not hold the same legal weight as second-parent adoption, it offers a valuable option for cooperative child-raising.

Remember, open communication and trust are crucial for successful co-parenting.


bottom of page