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Alternatives to co-parenting

Sometimes, after a high-conflict divorce, it can be difficult to parent a child with your ex-spouse. But the research shows that a child needs both parents, even though there might be animosity and anger between them. Co-parenting is a popular option, but parents have to be able to communicate with each other for co-parenting to be successful. 

A better option in a high-conflict divorce could be parallel parenting. In parallel parenting, parents disengage with each other but remain connected to the child. Parents have to work out major decisions together, but they make day-to-day parenting decisions individually. Whichever parent has the child is the one who works out the logistics. 

The benefits of parallel parenting go beyond staying involved in the children's lives while reducing conflict.  

  • Passage of time lets emotions settle down between parents. Eventually, parents might be able to transition into a co-parenting routine.
  • Parallel parenting protects the child's relationship with both parents and shields him or her from the conflict.
  • It honors both parents in the child's life as being important to his or her well-being. 

Parallel parenting is not for everyone. It is not a cure for a high-conflict divorce, nor is it a recommendation when there is abuse present. Some conflict is inevitable during a divorce, but that does not mean that parallel parenting should be the default option. 

Co-parenting might be the ideal way to raise a child following a divorce, but it is not always possible. For parallel parenting to be effective, the court order needs to be more specific to eliminate the need for future negotiation between the parents. 

Talking to an attorney about parenting plan options can help you find the best solution for your unique situation. Most parents want to be a part of their child's life, even when they cannot get along with the other parent. Parallel parenting is an option that might make that work.

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