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What is a Parallel Parenting Plan and When is it a Good Idea?

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Some divorced parents have no trouble interacting when necessary. They don’t have any problem discussing their child’s schedule, attending parent-teacher conferences side by side or calmly presenting differing opinions on important issues related to raising their child. Some divorced parents may not even find it difficult to invite their ex over with their new spouse to celebrate a child’s birthday. Other divorced parents that do not find it simple to discuss important issues with their ex regarding raising their child, find it pointedly difficult to avoid simple discussions escalating to contentious arguments, and are not capable of interacting with each other acceptably during social occasions. In these situations, parallel parenting may be beneficial. 

Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting

Co-parenting is a partnership between divorced parents or parents who were never married where parents consult each other on things related to their child. Parents involved in active co-parenting do not make significant decisions for their child on their own unless the other parent approves of the decision. In a healthy co-parenting relationship, parents see past their differences and focus on the child. They work together to parent their child or children.   

Parallel parenting is a method implemented in situations where co-parenting will not work. This arrangement allows divorced parents to co-parent by disengaging from each other. The goal of parallel parenting is to reduce conflict and move forward with each parent parenting the child.

When is Parallel Parenting a Good Idea?

1.    If simple interactions (pickups, drop-offs, attending the same functions or events, etc.) tend to lead to contention, parallel parenting may be a good idea. Parallel parenting allows co-parenting parents to minimize their interaction. In most cases, this significantly decreases the amount of contention as a simple and direct result of fewer opportunities to engage negatively.

2.    If face to face conversations or spontaneous communication like phone calls or texting tend to escalate to yelling or incessant arguing, parallel parenting may be a good idea. When implementing the ideas behind parallel parenting, many adopt “email only” communication, which avoids the possibility for in person or over the phone interactions that quickly devolve into negative or even harmful situations. Sticking strictly to email only communication allows parents to stick to the facts and avoid infusing them with unnecessary emotion.

3.    If you and your ex are not able to agree on overall parenting styles, parallel parenting may be a good idea. With parallel parenting, both parents agree that they are not going to agree, so parents must accept that they don’t control how the other parent parents (outside of neglect or abuse, of course). Email limits opportunities to contact the other with unsolicited parenting advice or questions regarding the other parent’s parenting choices.

If you need help creating a parenting plan promote successful co-parenting or if you have questions about parallel parenting, please get in touch with one of the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.

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