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Coparenting or co-parenting describes a parenting situation where the parents are not in a marriage, cohabitation or romantic relationship with one another. In the United States the term coparenting is often used to describe the relationship between two separated or divorced parents attempting to parent their shared children.
The term 'coparent' may also be used to describe a situation where, following divorce or separation, the child's parents seek to maintain equal or equivalent responsibility for the child's upbringing.
The principle of coparenting (Italian: Principio di bigenitorialità) states that a child has always and in any case the right to maintain a stable relationship with both parents, even if they are separated or divorced, unless there is a recognized need to separate him/her from one or both parents.
Such a right is based on the concept that to be a parent is a commitment that an adult takes with respect to his/her children, not to the other parent, so that it cannot and must not be influenced by any kind of separation among parents.
According to article 30 of Italian Constitution, to be a parent is both a right and a duty. As a right, it cannot be constrained by the agreement of a third party, even if it would be the other parent; as a duty, it is not possible to abdicate it as well as it is not possible to abdicate any decreed right.
The principle of coparenting opposes the habit to grant custody of a child exclusively to a single parent, and promotes the shared parenting as a protection of the right of children to continue to receive cares and love from both parents.
This principle was established in Italy at the beginning of the 21st century by the Associations of Separated Parents that for years have been fighting against a culture, a social mindset, and a legislative and legal system that is discriminating among genders in the conflicts between former partners, especially when children are involved. Such associations are in fact also committed to solve several problems related to separations and divorces, as international child abductions, parental alienation syndrome, and equal rights between genders in judicial separations and divorces.
There are some very specific issues in this type of coparenting that make being a parent or a child difficult. Organizing the child's life and activities, making sure that children receive consistent types and styles of discipline, and making sure that both parents are made aware of the issues in a child's life.
Elective coparenting - often referred to as "parenting partnerships" - may be used as a choice by individuals seeking to have children, who do not wish to enter into a conventional relationship. Such arrangements are common among gay and lesbian parents.
Such relationships may be established among friends, or by use of certain websites or advertising media.
The term coparenting is not really a neologism, since it already exists and is used in several scientific contexts, notably Psychology, Anthropology, and Biology. However, its original meaning was mostly related to united families. However, since the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, the principle that a child has to continue to maintain a strong relationship with both parents even if separated, has become more and more a recognized right. So, the concept of shared parenting was extended to separated and divorced families too. It should not be confused with biparentality, term used in biology and genetics to designate the genetic inheritance of a living being from both parents.