Law Offices of Anne Fokstuen


Family Law Today


When And If You Want A Preconception Agreement Or A Co-Parenting Agreement

If you are thinking of becoming a single parent it’s a good idea before conceiving the child, whether through IVF, a sperm donor or a friend, to think about what role, if any, you want the other biological parent to have in your child’s life. If you are not yet pregnant then you should think about having a preconception agreement prepared and signed before you get pregnant. A preconception agreement sets out your intention for your pregnancy and for raising your child. It lets you think about if you want the sperm donor or friend to be in your child’s life if so how. The agreement should be written because of your love for your child and to avoid having any legal disputes later on.

A preconception agreement provides that the donor has agreed to give sperm, the circumstances of the donation including that the donor will not be named as the father on the birth certificate and that the recipient agrees to relinquish any rights she might have to hold the donor legally, emotionally or financially responsible for any children that result from the donation. The preconception agreement should also set out that the recipient can choose to share the parenting responsibility with a partner of her choice, has the sole right to name the child and has the authority to choose a guardian for her children. The agreement should state whether the identity of the donor will be revealed, if so how he will be referred to and whether the donor will be able to have any contact with any children that are the result. Finally the agreement should specify what to do if there’s ever any dispute.

If you do not sign a preconception agreement before you get pregnant and are planning to raise the child as a single parent, you should create a co-parenting agreement that sets out your intentions for each of the co-parents and what role, if any you want the other parent to have in the child’s life. A co-parenting agreement should specify who gets to name the child, whether the father’s name will appear on the birth certificate, what religion the child will be raised in and if it’s a boy, whether the baby will be circumcised. The agreement can discuss how your child’s vacation, birthdays and holidays will be spent, whether the father will be involved in the child’s major life events and whether the father’s extended family members will be in your child’s life. Some parenting agreements include a section on expenses, including who will pay for child care, education (including private school), higher education, summer activities and health care expenses.

Your agreement needs to deal with what happens if you die or become incapacitated and who will become the custodial parent of your child if that were to happen, and what will happen if both parents die or become incapacitated. The agreement can discuss whether the co-parents will take out life insurance, plans for adding the child to your will, life insurance, and retirement plans as a beneficiary. The agreement should also specify how to handle disagreements, whether you agree to attend counseling, mediate or engage in collaborative law, and whether you agree to binding arbitration. The agreement should specify your intent that the agreement be honored by the court and what kind of law will be applied to interpret the agreement.

Anne Fokstuen