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Not everyone can co-parent, so consider parallel parenting

For whatever reason, you and your spouse could not work with each other to resolve your marital issues. Perhaps you had hope at some point that you could avoid going to court but quickly realized that this was not going to be an amicable divorce.

Because of the high amount of conflict between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you know that co-parenting is out of the question. You may reluctantly admit that the children love their other parent and need him or her in their lives, but you want as little as possible to do with him or her. Is there an alternative that still allows each of you to spend as much time with the children as possible without having to interact constantly with the other parent?

Parallel parenting may be the answer

You and the other parent may not agree on anything other than the fact that your children shouldn't suffer because the two of you cannot handle being in the same room together, let alone co-parent. Parallel parenting could provide you with a solution. The basic rules for this arrangement include the following:

  • You and the other parent agree not to speak ill of each other in front of the children.
  • You create a strict parenting time schedule, often with help from a third party, that each of you agrees to abide by.
  • You enter into an agreement regarding basic rules that will apply to each household. This does not mean that you both must do the same things, but rather that the children will have a loose routine that applies — regardless of the home they are in — regarding bedtimes, homework, morning routines and more.
  • You and the other parent will attend school events separately, including parent/teacher conferences, unless it is a large event, such as a sporting event, in order to avoid each other. If needed, you could ask the court for an order to this effect to provide to the school.
  • Contact with each other will only take place regarding the children via some technology, such as email, texting or even one of many co-parenting apps currently available. Whatever method you choose, you only use it to convey information about the children and their activities.

In addition to the agreements above, you and the other parent agree not to interfere with how each of you spends time with the children or runs the household, as long as it does not jeopardize the children's safety or well-being. You should know that this arrangement does not have to remain permanent. If, at some point, the two of you move past your negative feelings for each other, you can change this arrangement, but you will more than likely need to go through the court in order to do so.

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