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?
- 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.