Parallel parenting can make sense in high-conflict divorces

If you and your spouse are going through a contentious divorce, co-parenting may not only be difficult, but impossible. Every discussion you have about parenting may devolve into an argument. If this is the case, you may wonder whether you two should share parenting time and parental responsibilities.

Despite your differences, you and your spouse may both be fit and caring parents who your children have strong relationships with. To account for your children’s best interests, you may want to consider parallel parenting. This arrangement will maximize your time with them and will minimize your interactions with your spouse.

How parallel parenting works

Unlike co-parenting, parallel parenting will keep your communication with your spouse to a minimum. When you two do discuss parenting matters, you will do so in an asynchronous manner, such as through email or a parenting app. By avoiding direct communication, you may have an easier time averting potential conflicts.

While parallel parenting, you and your spouse will not attend your children’s events, meetings and appointments together. To make sure you both take part in these, you will want to include a provision in your parenting plan that outlines how you will rotate between them.

Parallel parenting will also require you and your spouse to establish firm rules for exchanging your children. If your relationship is especially hostile, you may want a third party – like a friend or relative – to transport them between residences. Or, you may want to arrange their drop-offs and pick-ups at their school or another place in your community. By exchanging your children in one of these manners, you can reduce the likelihood of unplanned interactions with your spouse.

What parallel parenting accomplishes

If you and your spouse have a high-conflict relationship, co-parenting could expose your children to your disputes. Since parallel parenting will limit your interactions, you can shield your children from these. By doing so, they will likely feel a greater sense of safety, stability and security, no matter which parent they are with.

In some cases, parallel parenting can also defuse the tensions between divorced couples. After following your plan for a while, you may find that you and your spouse’s interactions are no longer marked by hostility. If you learn to work together while parallel parenting, you may be able to transition to a co-parenting arrangement in the future.

By parallel parenting after your divorce, you can grow your bond with your children, regardless of your relationship with your spouse. A legal professional can help you determine whether it is an appropriate arrangement for your family.