Divorce: Parallel Parenting

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Parallel Parenting Defined

As my divorce practice has grown, I have encountered parents who have so much animosity towards each other, and/or divergent views of parenting, that cooperation, co-parenting and shared decision making aren’t possible. For these families, a parenting plan known as parallel parenting may be a solution.

Who is appropriate for parallel parenting?

Parents who:

  • Do not get along.
  • Are very reactive to each other.
  • Feel extremely uncomfortable in each others’ presence.
  • Have on order of protection.
  • Can’t cooperate in one or more major areas of parenting.

What is the reason for proposing parallel parenting?

  • Children need time with each parent.
  • They have a right not to be always in the middle of conflict.
  • Each parent has a right to a relationship with the child without the interference of the other parent.
  • The level of conflict between the parents is the greatest predictor of how children do after a divorce. Reducing the level of conflict improves a child’s prognosis.

What makes a parallel parenting agreement different from a more traditional parenting agreement?

  • Nothing is assumed. Everything is spelled out in great detail.
  • There is no personal information shared with the other parent.
  • Meetings and exchanges are public and formal.
  • Calls and meetings take place during regular business hours and are time limited.
  • Following the meeting, the parent initiating the meeting should send a written summary confirming understandings on key points.
  • Meetings may require the presence of a third party. Ideally, this would be a Parenting Coordinator.

How does parallel parenting work?

  • Parents have little or no interaction with each other.
  • The schedule is written down in detail on a calendar. Loopholes breed conflict.
  • There is no assumption of flexibility in scheduling.
  • Each parent’s household functions independently. What happens is not discussed with the other parent.
  • Major decisions are communicated rather than discussed by the parent who has the authority to make the decisions during that time.
  • Parents avoid face to face communication and communicate through a neutral source such as Our Family Wizard.
  • Transition times take place at a neutral location. Each parent is responsible for contacting the school regarding meetings, report cards or other communication.
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About MickiMoran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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