Why are less and less couples getting married? Is it because their parent’s marriages failed? Is it because they don’t see any benefit to marriage? Is it because every wedding appears to be a $20,000 extravagant country club affair?
Maybe, as was written in a recent New York Times article
, “…marriage has gone from being a way that people pulled their lives together to something they agree to once they have already done that independently.”
There are several problems with this way of thinking.
One is that children don’t wait for marriage. More and more children are born outside of marriage. This is a problem if the parents separate without ever marrying, because then (at least in Minnesota) the father has no enforceable legal rights to parenting time until he spends a significant amount of time and money to get a judge to order that he can have parenting time with the child. This is true regardless of whether the father has raised the child jointly with the mother since the child’s birth. This is a bad deal for both the father and the child as it typically significantly interrupts their relationship and causes unwarranted stress on the child.
Another reason is that marriage is a financial life jacket in terms of protections for the lower earning spouse and a fair division of the assets accumulated during the marriage. This is one reason same-sex couples had been yearning for the protection of marriage until it became the law in Minnesota in 2013. Same-sex couples were not entitled to a fair division of the house or their partner’s retirement account, without access to the institution of marriage.
Because it is risky financially to accumulate assets together before marriage and because marriage helps protect the father-child relationship for the benefit of child, it is risky business to delay marriage if you are having a child together or are otherwise in a committed relationship.
has been a news-maker lately for her courageous decision to disclose her personal health care response to having a breast cancer gene. You may have noticed in her media interviews how often she has referred to “my partner, Brad Pitt.” Jolie and Pitt are among many parents raising children and creating lives together without being married. Some couples do this by choice and others by historic exclusion from the opportunity to get married (an inequitable situation that has changed with the recent passage of marriage equality legislation in Minnesota
What support options exist for these families when parents make the difficult decision to break up? And what support options exist for parents who never formed a permanent relationship but intend to co-parent? What might Collaborative Team Practice have to offer these parents and families?
Collaborative Team Practice can provide a very stable container for parents seeking to end their partnership in a dignified and respectful way, and to create a road map for future co-parenting. Depending on the legal, financial and parenting issues to be resolved, parents can select a team of professionals specifically tailored to their circumstances and needs.
As a neutral child specialist
, I have been privileged to work with many non-married couples and non-coupled parents to create developmentally responsive parenting plans to guide co-parenting. These are clients who take to heart the notion that kids deserve the best safe parenting they can get from both parents. The future for these children feels brighter, more hopeful and more coherent.
It takes courage and mindfulness to co-parent after a break up, or if parents have never been in a committed relationship. But we know that effective co-parenting is a cornerstone of health and resilience for children. Parents deserve all the support they can get, and Collaborative Team Practice can help provide that support.