You may be familiar with joint custody, and even coparenting, but your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex could be so difficult now that you know it wouldn't be in your best interests. A parallel parenting situation may be your best option in this case, and here is how it works.
What It Is
Parallel parenting (or conflictual coparenting) is a custody arrangement where the children spend a lot of time with each parent but the actual contact between the parents is extremely limited. The parents each have their own "realm" when the children are with them. However, The areas of major decision-making are not shared but divided up between parents.
How It Works
In this arrangement, necessary communication between parents is done in indirect ways, such as
- short emails,
- messages in a notebook that is sent back and forth, or in
- scheduled meetings with a mediator to discuss larger issues as they come up.
The decision-making can be divided so that one parent makes choices about education while the other makes decisions about medical issues. Other issues that can be divided up are choice of religion, extracurricular activities, and more.
When the children are with one parent, they go by that parent's routines and rules, and vice versa when they are with the other parent. If the children balk and say something like "I don't have to do that at Daddy's house," the parent can remind them that they are at Mommy's place and they will need to go her rules.
The things you and your ex agree to avoid in a parallel parenting arrangement are
- send messages through the children,
- make plans that are during the other parent's time, and
- ask the children what they did at the other parent's house.
Advantages of Parallel Parenting
There are plenty of advantages to this type of arrangement including the following:
- It shields the children from the parents' hostilities towards each other.
- It still allows for a joint custody arrangement.
- It shields one parent from the manipulative behavior of the other.
- Both parents can still feel that they are having a significant impact on the children's lives and upbringing.
Parallel parenting helps you to redirect the energy you expend being angry into taking care of your children. It also gives you and your ex time and space to get over the worst of bad feelings so eventually the arrangement can become more collaborative.
For expert advice on custody issues for your situation, you should consult a family law attorney, such as one from Bahan Law LLC.