After 10 years of marriage, Coldplay singer Chris Martin and actress Gwyneth Paltrow are separating.
While a blog post by the duo says they're entering into a stage of "conscious uncoupling," they plan to co-parent their two children, according to Reuters.
So how do co-parenting plans work when parents are legally separated?
Separation v. Divorce
Breaking up is hard to do, but for married couples, there's the option of either separation or divorce. Legal separation means that the parties are still married under the law.
Although couples can separate on their own terms, a legal separation court order lays out the rights and duties of a couple while they're still married, but living apart. Often, couples choose to separate for a time before getting a divorce in hopes of working out problems in their marriage.
Unlike separation, a finalized divorce means that the couple is no longer legally married. However, legal separation court orders are pretty similar to divorce proceedings because the order usually includes child custody and visitation rights as well as property division.
While it's unclear whether Paltrow and Martin plan to eventually divorce or remain separated, they have announced that they plan to co-parent their kids, Apple and Moses. Co-parenting plans allow parents who are no longer in a relationship to continue to share the duties of raising their kids. In many cases, co-parenting is in the best interests of the children.
According to People, Martin and Paltrow were married in California. Under California laws, parenting plans are usually written agreements that stipulate where and with whom the kids will live with and at what times.
In addition to physical custody, parenting plans can also cover:
- Where the kids go to school;
- What type of religion the children will follow;
- Transportation arrangements, which may be needed in this case, as Martin is originally from the UK and Paltrow is from the United States; and even
- The type of diet the children will have (Paltrow is known for her particularly healthy eating habits).
Although co-parenting plans can be a mutually agreed upon deal between two parents, a court can make it legally binding. Once it becomes a court order, violations of the co-parenting plan could result in civil or criminal penalties.
So even though Paltrow and Martin are separating, Paltrow posted on her lifestyle website Goop.com that they'll "always be a family, and in many ways, we are closer than we have ever been," Reuters reports.