I want to pick up on yesterday’s post here. I left myself with a question–whether there’s a justification for assuming that co-parents need to be or have been romantic partners.
Actually, before I tackle that, there’s one wrinkle to discuss, which reveals a bit more complexity. Long ago on this blog I spent a good deal of time discussing the parentage of a child whose conception is the result of a one-night-stand. Quite apart from what I think the law ought to be, this is a situation in which the law generally does recognize both the man and the woman involved as legal parents even though they are not and have never been romantic partners in any meaningful way. In other words, this is a situation which seems inconsistent with my contention that we generally assume that parents should be or have been romantic partners–a couple, if you will.
Although it is inconsistent, I actually don’t think this disproves my contention that the general expectation is that parents will be romantic partners. The underlying problem in the one-night-stand case is that the two people are essentially strangers. Thus, the prospects for them co-parenting are not particularly good. The absence of any meaningful relationship between them is clearly a problem, which tends to reinforce the idea that the existence of a meaningful relationship is a good thing, if not an absolutely required thing. And then I think we take this little hop and assume that the right relationship is for them to be a couple. (Isn’t this the plot of Knocked Up?)
So why shouldn’t two good friends decide they’d like to co-parent together? I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that friendships are actually more stable than romances. In which case you’d think that it would be a good setting in which to raise a child.
The DC statute which started me down this line makes room for families like these–families that are not structured around a romantic dyad. Even if it is not for everyone, it seems to me that it’s good to have room for that. If the law were to recognize and provide protection for this option, perhaps more people would feel free to think outside the box.
Right now, I think people think who would like to become parents probably think of two main options: Find the right romantic partner and have kids together or be a single parent. I see no reason not to give people a third path–find a co-parent who won’t also be a romantic partner.