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What Is the Tri-Parenting Model?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Before a New Jersey court tackled the question earlier this month, most people had never heard of "tri-parenting." But the unique family arrangement may be gaining steam, especially now that restrictions on gay marriage and adoption have been relaxed.

So how does tri-parenting work, and could it work for you?

A New Family Paradigm

Okay, the ins and outs of the New Jersey case are a bit complicated, and the court referred to all parties by their initials, so bear with us and our generic monikers. Dad One and Mom were longtime friends, and Dad One was in a relationship with Dad Two. All three lived in the New York area and "discussed conceiving a child together and creating a tri-parenting arrangement," to wit:

"The idea of all three parties having a child together, which started as playful thought, quickly became serious. The parties ultimately decided that they indeed would go forward and conceive and raise a child together. The parties discussed their respective roles in the child's life. They believed they were setting forth an unprecedented paradigm that they coined a 'tri-parenting relationship.'"

Using Dad One's sperm, Mom's egg, an ovulation monitor, and a turkey baster, the triumvirate conceived a little girl, Child, in 2009. Everything was going smoothly until Mom met a man and wanted to move with Child to California.

Try Parenting, Tri-Parents

With the impending move, Dads One and Two wanted a court-ordered parenting time and custody determination to replace their original tri-parenting agreement. In the end, the court blocked Mom's move and granted all three joint custody, with half of the parenting time going to the Dads and the other half to Mom.

While this may not be as novel an idea as some may think, the New Jersey court's ruling demonstrates two aspects of modern custody arrangements:

Even the best laid parenting plans of Dads and Moms often go awry, and are in need of review by an experienced child custody attorney.

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