Not every divorce in Virginia ends amicably. However, when parents are undergoing a high-conflict divorce, they will have to face the reality that they will have to continue to work together, at least to some extent, to raise their child even though they are no longer in a relationship with one another.
Co-parenting, where parents share physical custody and legal custody, may be good if the parents can set their differences aside and put their child’s needs first. However, there is an option for parents who simply cannot cooperate in that manner: parallel parenting.
Through parallel parenting, divorced parents may share child custody, but will keep their contact with one another at a minimum. For example, they may share legal custody, but one parent will make certain decisions on their own and the other parent will also make other decisions on their own. In addition, through parallel parenting, each parent has the freedom to decide on how the day-to-day care of their child will operate when it is their turn to have the child in their custody.
Parallel parenting can be beneficial, because there is less of a chance that the child will be exposed to conflict between the parents. It is not good for a child to feel caught between two warring parents. Parallel parenting also shows the child that both parents play an important role in the child’s life, even if the parents are not necessarily on amicable terms with one another.
However, parallel parenting requires a good deal of structure and specificity with regards to the parenting plan and custody exchanges, so that the parents’ need to communicate with one another is kept to a minimum. Texting or emailing is often preferable to a phone call or face-to-face conversations.
Co-parenting is a noble goal, but if it simply isn’t feasible parents shouldn’t try to force it. Parallel parenting is an option in high-conflict situations that may be a way for both parents to play an important role in their child’s life. This benefits both the parents and the child, providing all parties with stability and structure in their lives moving forward.