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The basics of parallel parenting

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2020 | Divorce

Following a divorce, everyone involved must adjust to new living arrangements. With children in the picture, their parents must make decisions about future parenting. Although both parents may want to stay active in their children’s lives, the conflict between them can make co-parenting difficult or even impossible. 

Parents can show their children that, despite the high levels of conflict that currently exist between them, playing a role in their children’s lives is important to them. For those who want to maintain relationships with their children but would prefer not to directly expose them to ongoing conflict, parallel parenting could be an effective solution. 

What is parallel parenting? 

Parallel parenting refers to an arrangement that allows both of the divorced parents to participate in raising their children while remaining disengaged from each other. Due to their hostility and communication difficulties, parents have limited direct contact. With parallel parenting, mom and dad can contribute to raising their children without engaging in high levels of mutual cooperation. 

How can parents communicate with each other? 

Because of limited direct contact, the divorced couple will need to find ways to communicate that do not involve having in-person discussions. Some may find it helpful to use a communication notebook that travels back and forth with the child. At the end of each visit, they can write a summary of what occurred during their time with the child. 

If they choose, those divorced can also send emails or texts to keep each other updated. This way, everyone can stay informed about the child’s mood, behavior and daily routine. 

Is this arrangement permanent? 

The court does not intend for parallel parenting to be a permanent arrangement. At least every 180 days, the court must hold a hearing to review the parallel parenting order and decide whether to continue, modify or end the order. In cases in which supervised parenting time is being phased out, parallel parenting could provide a replacement. 

If classes are available, parents can attend to learn about cooperative parenting and conflict resolution. As they learn the necessary skills, divorced mothers and fathers will work toward becoming more effective co-parents.