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Parallel parenting: An option for contentious situations

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2023 | Child Custody

Parenting after a divorce or separation can be complex, especially when high-conflict dynamics persist between the parents. In such instances, traditional co-parenting arrangements can be challenging, leading to additional stress and potential harm to the children. As an alternative to co-parenting, parallel parenting aims to reduce conflict and ensure the well-being of the children.

Parallel parenting is an arrangement where divorced or separated parents co-parent by disengaging from each other and having limited direct contact while remaining fully involved as parents to their children. In this model, each parent is responsible for their children during their designated parenting time and independently makes day-to-day decisions.

When is parallel parenting appropriate?

Parallel parenting is typically appropriate in situations marked by high conflict, where attempts at communication and collaboration can lead to arguments, hostility and added tension. These situations aren’t conducive to traditional co-parenting strategies that emphasize open communication and cooperation.

In a parallel parenting arrangement, the focus is on disengagement to reduce the contact between parents to an absolute minimum. This limits the opportunities for conflict. It’s sometimes the best choice when interactions between parents consistently result in disagreement or hostility, potentially causing distress for the children involved.

Conflict reduction

While parallel parenting may seem less ideal than cooperative co-parenting, it can be a practical solution in high-conflict situations. The aim is to provide children with a stable, conflict-free environment, enabling them to maintain a positive relationship with both parents.

Considerations and implementation

It’s also crucial to establish clear boundaries and communication protocols. Typically, in a parallel parenting situation, communication is limited to essential information about the children’s welfare and is often conducted in a business-like manner through written methods such as email or text messages.

A detailed parenting plan is essential when opting for a parallel parenting arrangement. This plan must clearly outline each parent’s responsibilities and parenting time, addressing everything from daily routines to decisions on education and healthcare.