In an ideal world, you and your co-parent would amicably share custody of your children. You’d have brief but pleasant conversations as you drop them off or pick them up at each other’s homes, keep each other informed about academic, health and personal issues the kids are dealing with and sit together at soccer games and school plays.
However, some divorcing and divorced parents can’t make that arrangement work. No matter how much they want to do what’s best for the kids, they can’t effectively co-parent because there’s just too much residual animosity from whatever happened to end the marriage.
What is parallel parenting?
That’s why some parents choose an arrangement called “parallel parenting.” This is where former spouses share custody but parent their children separately. They have little direct communication about the kids. Fortunately, there are numerous co-parenting apps that help facilitate this by providing a place where parents can record and exchange information about their children without engaging, even by phone or text, with their co-parent.
Parents with a parallel parenting agreement often meet at a public site to transition their kids from one home to the other. Some choose a neutral third party like a mutual friend or even a family member who’s not taking sides to handle the transitions.
Parents with shared legal as well as physical custody – meaning they both have a say in things like their children’s medical care, education and religious upbringing — will still need to make some decisions jointly. However, parallel parenting can remove the need for regular communication over routine matters that can lead to messy arguments for some co-parents.
Parallel parenting is often a temporary arrangement
Parallel parenting agreements typically aren’t meant to last for the entirety of kids’ childhoods. Often, however, it’s the best arrangement in the early months or longer after a marriage ends. It can give parents some additional space from one another as they both heal from their split.
If you believe parallel parenting is the best thing for your family for the time being, it’s crucial to have a clear, detailed parenting plan in place. With experienced legal guidance, you can work out a plan that will help you make this arrangement work successfully for as long as you need it.