Co-parenting or parallel parenting: What’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2020 | Child Custody |

Couples going through a divorce typically don’t agree about much. Hopefully, they are both on the same page when it comes to their children’s best interests.

Psychologists say any conflict between parents is hardest on their kids. The healthiest situation for any family undergoing a divorce is for both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives.

What will the future parenting relationship look like?

It can seem like a daunting challenge for former spouses to achieve these two important goals of reducing conflict and staying involved as a positive force for their kids, especially if that was a problem during the marriage. However, two models typically result after divorce:

  • Co-parenting: Parents who remain civil can benefit from this concept where they continue to make decisions and have frequent communication about their kids, solve parenting problems together and maybe even attend some family events at the same time.
  • Parallel parenting: Parents who rarely communicate often go this way. Their kids live in two parallel households because mom and dad try to avoid any communication, if possible. While not ideal, this method can shield kids from negative feelings triggered even at the mention of the other parent. This may be the only way to avoid or reduce conflict.

Finding the best method for the future

Most people fall into the middle of these two extremes, so it’s not always easy to determine the best parenting relationship early on. However, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much communication can I stand with my ex before I get angry?
  • How much contact do I want with my former partner?
  • Is working together with my ex possible in the best interests of our kids?
  • How can we reduce or end arguments to provide a peaceful atmosphere for our children?

It’s essential that you answer these questions realistically and don’t enlist in wishful thinking as that will not help your kids.

Create and stick to a thorough parenting plan

Divorce creates so many uncertainties from an emotional standpoint. One way to avoid added stress is to specify what your future parenting relationship will look like in as much detail as possible. That means spelling out how and when you’ll spend time with your kids, including holidays and school breaks.

It should also include several other critical components, such as how educational or medical decisions are made. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help you focus on your future relationship with your kids and your ex. Your attorney is dedicated to finding the best possible outcome over custody, asset distribution and support.