When parents split up and determine their custody roles, they often go one of two ways. They can learn to get along or not let their past stop them from fighting. Learning how to parent with your ex is essential to protect your children’s best interests.
Two parenting methods are standard after a divorce -- co-parenting and parallel parenting.
Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting
Co-parenting occurs when parents can work together to find resolutions to problems that are in the best interest of their child. Typically, children will live in both homes, and parents have no problems going to events and other functions for their child at the same time. Any interactions between each parent is cordial. If there are any problems that arise, co-parents can effectively navigate their issues to find a solution without things getting to tense.
Parallel parenting, on the other hand, occurs when parents, that may or may not share custody, cannot interact with each other, or solve problems without fighting. In this situation, parents keep all custody matters separate. For events, doctor’s appointments, activities, etc. only one parent will attend. Direct contact is limited, and often through other methods like texting, email, or custody sharing apps. Essentially, parallel parenting aims to lay out clear and direct guidelines and boundaries for both parents.
In most parallel parenting plans, one parent is the established primary custodian because the parents can struggle to remain neutral while the children go between homes. Often there is high conflict among the parents, which can lead to negative consequences to the child both emotionally and psychologically.
How to Parallel Parent
While co-parenting is typically the most beneficial for children of divorce, parallel parenting can be done effectively to ensure the best for the child.
To make parallel parenting as successful as possible, parents should do the following:
Keep communication between parents to a minimum.
Have a system in place of how to communicate and stick with each other. This could be via email, text, or a co-parenting app. All communication should be brief and to the point and limited to only sharing details about custody matters unless there is an emergency.
Parents should not attend child-related functions or activities together.
If parents cannot be cordial together, it’s best for the child if either one parent doesn’t attend, or if both do, then they do not sit near each other nor interact with each other. Parents should contact schools and programs to let them know when essential functions are happening and not rely on the other parent to share this information.
Don’t make drop off and pick up times difficult
During pick-up and drop-off times, one parent should wait in the car while the child meets the other parent. By limiting the amount of contact with each other, the less likely there will be conflict for either party.
Stay in the loop
In a parallel parenting situation, parents should keep in touch with essential adult figures in their child’s life, like teachers, doctors, therapists, and anyone else the child has frequent contact with. This helps parents better understand how their child is coping with the situation.
It’s not uncommon for parents with joint custody to implement co-parenting and parallel parenting characteristics.
Sometimes, parents can get along enough to communicate with each other without fighting but struggle when they are in the same room together. There isn’t one specific way that is correct to parent.
The most important thing that parents can do is put their child’s needs and happiness above everything else.
If you are in a custody battle and need help protecting your parental rights, call Parchman Law Group P.L.L.C. at (713) 364-0777 to discuss your case with a skilled Woodlands child custody attorney or in the Houston area.