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Forget Divorce: Some Couples Turning to Platonic Parenting Instead

Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Coldplay front man Chris Man, caused a stir last year they announced that their 10-year-marriage would end not in divorce, but in a “conscious uncoupling”. But now some parents are taking that one step further, putting a twist on the age-old “we’re staying together for the kids” adage and raising their children in a platonic marriage.

Married, but Separate

A platonic marriage, or platonic parenting, is exactly what it sounds like: the parents agree to remain married and live in the same household, but the relationship has none of the romantic elements normally associated with marriage. For parents who were never married, whether they had a child while dating or purposely set out to raise a child in a platonic relationship, they choose to live together and parent together. In both instances, the parenting relationship is kept completely separate from each parent’s individual personal relationships.

How effective is this type of relationship? It’s hard to say. Children definitely benefit from having the full, active involvement of both parents in their daily life. But such an arrangement could cause confusion for some children, especially very young ones, who don’t understand that their parents’ marriage is actually over, despite the fact that the entire family still lives together. If one parent enters into a new relationship with another person down the road, the emotions they feel may mimic those experienced by children whose parents actually go through traditional divorce proceedings – meaning the arrangement never actually spares the child the pain of having his parent’s divorce, just postpones it.

And what about the couple? Obviously this type of arrangement would not work, and would in fact be dangerous, if there is any type of power imbalance between the couple, such as in a domestic violence situation. For some, eliminating the romantic aspect of the relationship may in fact help the couple get along better; perhaps, in some instances, even lead to them reconnecting on an emotional level. Others may find that the arrangement works until they seek out romantic relationships elsewhere.

It may seem that another upside to a platonic marriage is not having to divide assets in a divorce. But this arrangement raises a number of issues that the couple will need to iron out, such as:

  • Financial contribution each spouse will make to the household;
  • Financial support each spouse will provide to the other;
  • Whether the spouse’s will continue to be named beneficiaries on the others life insurance policies, estate plan and/or retirement benefits;
  • How romantic relationships will be handled, i.e., no introduction to the children, or an open and honest policy, and;
  • How assets each spouse acquires after the decision to enter into a platonic marriage will be treated in the event of actual divorce.

Couples are free to draft whatever arrangement fits their specific purposes. But for those entering into a platonic marriage, it would be wise for them to draft a postnuptial agreement to solidify their expectations, particularly in regard to the finances and how assets will be divided if the marriage ever ends in formal divorce.

Boca Raton Family Law Attorneys

At Schwartz l White, our family law attorneys understand that the prospect of divorce and child custody can be stressful. With more than 50 years’ combined experience handling all family law matters, we can help you decide on the course of action that is best for everybody involved, whether that’s a traditional divorce, platonic marriage or some other arrangement. Call 561.391.9943 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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