More family courts are encouraging divorced parents work together to raise a child. This type of plan is often called co-parenting.
In a high-conflict divorce, co-parenting might not be possible. However, it is important for children to have relationships with both parents. In a case where parents cannot communicate with each other, it might be better to look into establishing a parallel parenting plan.
With parallel parenting, divorced parents have limited direct contact with each other. The parenting plan worked out in the divorce should be very specific about who has responsibility for which aspects of the child’s life. One parent may make decisions about education, while the other has medical decision-making. Both parents have to agree to the visitation or custody schedule and keep to it.
The key difference in parallel parenting over co-parenting is that the parents disengage with each other. Communication is left to email or an electronic app designed for divorced families. Each parent is responsible for the routine, day-to-day parenting when with the child.
Ideally, parallel parenting can lead to a point where the parents can trust each other and put aside their hostilities for the best interest of the child. Even if that does not happen, the child can still have a relationship with both parents without feeling as if he or she is in the middle of the conflict.
Drawing up the right plan
Creating a parenting plan is often very difficult, even when two parents want to cooperate. In a high-conflict divorce, you may want to have an attorney assist you in mediating a parallel parenting plan to give you the best chance for success when the divorce is finalized. In addition, if you need to make changes to a current parenting plan, discussing your options with an attorney can make sure you are following the right process.