Children With Strangers: The New Co-Parents

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Domestic Partnerships on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.

Many parents got married with the idea of having child custody. A growing number of parents had children outside of marriage. Now there is a new breed of parent, and they visit special websites.

No, not JDate or eHarmony. The websites I’m talking about are for people looking to find strangers to start a family with. Really. They are Parenting Partners, or sometimes called co-parents.

There are several websites to help them:


These websites cater to strangers trying to find and match themselves with the perfect sperm donor, egg donor or co-parent. As the New York Times reports:

“While some people have chosen to be a single parent, many more people look at scheduling and the financial pressures and the lack of an emotional partner and decide that single parenting is too daunting and wouldn’t be good for them or the child,” said Darren Spedale, 38, the founder of Family by Design, a free parenting partnership site officially introduced in early January. “If you can share the support and the ups and downs with someone, it makes it a much more interesting parenting option.”

Some people are critical of online parenting. Elizabeth Marquardt, for example, who is the director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, argues:

“It’s a terrible idea, deliberately consigning a child to be raised in two different worlds, with parents who did not even attempt to form a loving bond with one another.

Still, people are doing it. And, some have become wise consumers too:

“We become super-critical – much more than if it was just a cup of coffee or a date.”

That’s nice. However, these arrangements have problems typical of any family. What if a parent wants to move away? What will the timesharing schedule be? How will decisions about health, education and welfare be made? Consider this couple:

While Mr. Blue and Ms. Pieke plan on sharing parenting responsibility for Indigo equally, they never drafted any kind of legal agreement, which they both agree was unwise.

A lot of these issues can be addressed in an agreement, because they are the problems a lawyer specializing in family law deals with daily. Anyone looking to become a parent this way will likely have more success with a written agreement.

If nothing else, it also will force you to think about these issues before you click the “check out” button.