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Co-Parenting with the Other Side impossible? Consider Parallel Parenting...

Parallel parenting is a type of parenting arrangement often utilized in high-conflict divorces or separations where co-parenting or collaborative parenting isn't possible or desirable due to the high level of hostility or potential harm between the parents. In this approach, each parent assumes complete responsibility for the children during their designated parenting time, limiting direct communication with the other parent to only necessary issues about the children's welfare.

Parallel parenting typically includes very structured and detailed parenting plans to minimize the potential for conflict and the need for communication between parents. These plans might detail specifics about drop-off and pick-up times and locations, as well as rules about extracurricular activities, medical care, and other areas.

The goal of parallel parenting is to allow the children to maintain relationships with both parents, despite the parents' inability to communicate effectively or amicably. It also serves to reduce the stress children may experience when they witness ongoing conflict between their parents.

Although there's less direct communication in parallel parenting, it is still crucial to keep the other parent informed about significant matters regarding the children, such as their health, education, or significant behavioral issues. This communication is often carried out through a third party or written correspondence, like email or a parenting communication app, to keep things neutral and strictly focused on the children's well-being.

Parallel parenting isn't a perfect solution, but it can be a valuable tool when other co-parenting methods aren't viable due to high conflict, abuse, or other significant issues. It should be noted that it requires a high level of discipline and commitment from both parents to prioritize the needs of the children over their personal conflicts with each other. It's also often recommended to be implemented under the guidance of a legal counsel, parenting coordinator, or therapist.

What are the advantages of parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting can have several advantages, especially in situations where parents struggle to communicate or collaborate amicably. Here are some potential benefits:

  1. Reduced Conflict: By minimizing direct contact and communication between the parents, the chances for conflict can be reduced. This can help create a more peaceful environment for the children.

  2. Focus on Children: Each parent has the chance to focus on their relationship with the child, without the interference or conflict from the other parent. This can allow for deeper, more meaningful connections.

  3. Structure and Predictability: Parallel parenting often involves a very detailed and structured parenting plan. This can provide predictability and consistency for the children, which can be beneficial to their emotional stability and sense of security.

  4. Modeling Healthy Boundaries: Parallel parenting can model the establishment of healthy boundaries to children, which can be a valuable life skill.

  5. Personal Healing and Recovery: By reducing interactions with the other parent, each parent may have an easier time healing from the emotional wounds associated with the breakup or divorce.

  6. Potential for Improved Relations Over Time: With reduced conflict and personal healing, there's the potential for relations between the parents to improve over time. This could eventually make a transition to a more collaborative co-parenting model possible, if desired.

Remember, every family situation is unique, so what works for one might not work for another. It's important for parents to work with professionals like therapists, lawyers, or mediators to determine the best arrangement for their individual circumstances. It's also essential to keep the best interests of the child as the top priority in any parenting plan.

What are the drawbacks of parallel parenting in Child Custody?

While parallel parenting can be a beneficial arrangement in certain situations, it's not without its potential drawbacks. Here are some of the main challenges or cons associated with this model:

  1. Limited Communication: While reduced communication can help lower conflict, it can also lead to misunderstandings or lack of information about the child's well-being, school progress, or other important matters. If not carefully managed, important updates or issues may not be communicated effectively.

  2. Lack of Consistency: With each parent having complete control during their respective parenting time, there can be inconsistency in rules, expectations, and routines between the two households. This inconsistency can potentially lead to confusion or stress for the child.

  3. Complexity and Detail of Parenting Plans: Parallel parenting often requires very detailed and structured parenting plans, which can be difficult to create and manage. They may also require frequent revisions as the child's needs change.

  4. Potential for Alienation: If one parent does not respect the arrangement and talks negatively about the other parent in front of the child, it can contribute to parental alienation.

  5. Inflexibility: Because the parallel parenting plan tends to be quite rigid to prevent conflicts, it may not allow for much flexibility. This could pose challenges when unexpected situations or changes in circumstances arise.

  6. Limits on Parental Cooperation: In an ideal situation, parents would be able to cooperate and make joint decisions in the best interest of their child. However, in parallel parenting, this joint decision-making process is minimized, which can limit the beneficial aspects of parental cooperation.

Remember, while parallel parenting has its drawbacks, it's often used in situations where the potential negative impact of ongoing conflict between the parents would be greater. Every situation is unique, and parents should consider their specific circumstances, ideally with professional guidance, to determine the most appropriate parenting plan.

What do Judges think about parallel parenting?

Generally, courts and judges tend to prioritize the best interests of the child in any custody situation. This is a principle that guides most child custody decisions, regardless of the specifics of each case.

As for parallel parenting, it's generally recognized as a viable alternative in high-conflict situations. When co-parenting isn't possible due to high levels of conflict, abuse, or other detrimental behaviors, judges may see parallel parenting as a practical alternative that can help protect the child from ongoing conflict and tension. The primary goal is always to ensure the child's safety, stability, and well-being.

Judges also understand the necessity of a detailed parenting plan in parallel parenting scenarios. They might scrutinize such plans to ensure that they are comprehensive and serve the best interests of the child.

However, this doesn't mean that all judges universally approve of or advocate for parallel parenting. The appropriateness of this approach can depend on the specifics of each case. Additionally, judicial perspectives can vary based on local laws, cultural factors, personal beliefs, and the evolving understanding of child development and family dynamics.

In all scenarios, parents should seek legal counsel to help navigate the complex and nuanced process of child custody decisions.


If you would like to learn more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can stand up for yourself and be more effective in your Child Custody, Divorce, DHR or Adoption case, will you CLICK HERE to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices?


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. ~SW, Foxtrot

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