Each parent has their own approach to raising children. It may not be the same as the co-parent, but the two ideally work well enough together to provide a happy and healthy environment for the children. This is often even the case when couples choose to seek The JOY of Divorce, and the parenting plan involves the couple working closely together to raise the family after the divorce.
Sometimes, however, couples involved in high-conflict divorce and the damaging behavior that led to it realize that minimal direct contact between parents is in the best interests of all. Rather than a collaborative approach, the couple can draft a parallel parenting plan that minimizes contact with their ex while still enabling them to parent actively.
The advantages of this approach
Parenting and family experts see several benefits to parallel parenting, including:
- Establishes clear boundaries: The agreement clearly outlines what areas they must consult their ex-spouse on (school, medical care, religious upbringing) and what areas they can manage on their own (house rules, gifts and giving, vacations).
- Offers a workable first step: Emotions often run high during a high-conflict divorce, and parallel parenting minimizes contact until a time when the parents are comfortable working more closely.
- Minimizes potential disputes in front of children: This arrangement ideally minimizes the children’s exposure to parental conflicts or disagreements.
The logistics of parallel parenting
The initial plan will have a high degree of specifics that reduces the need for ongoing direct communication:
- Put it in writing: The parents can choose a notebook or a digital messaging application to update the other on the well-being of the child and details of any school-related issues, sleeping habits of younger children, or other emerging issues. This is an information exchange and should not include criticism.
- Use an impartial third person: Parental meetings to address critical issues can be most constructive if there is a neutral third party who helps address and resolve pressing matters.
Safety is essential
A judge and law enforcement should be aware of a spouse who has a history of violence towards family members. Once external monitoring and a safety plan are in place, parallel parenting may be an option if it is in the best interests of the children. A visiting plan or active co-parenting will likely be suspended until a time when it is safe to draft a plan or schedule.
Happy and healthy children are the priority
The needs of each family are different. Nevertheless, an experienced and knowledgeable Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, Tarrant County, Midland County, Ector County, or elsewhere throughout Texas can be a tremendous help in drafting a parenting plan, parallel or otherwise, that is in the best interests of the children. If the well-being and safety of the children is a concern, they can also work to seek sole custody for their client.