When To Consider Parallel Parenting

Studies show that children have better outcomes when they are able to spend approximately 50% of their time with each parent. However, this can be difficult in a contentious Bucks County divorce or when two parents have drastically different parenting styles.

In these high-conflict situations, parallel parenting can be the recommended solution to ensure that the kids spend ample time with each parent, yet the warring parents don’t have to interact much (if at all) with each other.

This article defines the concept of parallel parenting, including when it might be the right solution for divorced parents.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

A parallel parenting situation occurs when each parent makes their own decisions about the children’s care and activities while they are in that parent’s respective custody. In other words, parallel parenting is when you are both parenting, but doing your own thing.

This approach to custody and decision-making is typically recommended when parents do not get along. Parallel parenting is a co-parenting method that minimizes contact between the two parents because each parent has the authority to exercise autonomy and authority within their own household.

Parallel Parenting vs. Shared Custody

In a co-parenting arrangement, parallel parenting is markedly different from shared custody (also referred to as joint custody). With shared custody, both parents work together in regard to important decisions, including education, healthcare, religious upbringing, etc.

By contrast, parallel parenting virtually eliminates this shared decision-making, and communication methods for parallel parenting arrangements may be limited to email, text messaging, parenting apps, shared online platforms (like Google Drive or Dropbox), third-party mediators, and written communication.

These methods of communication minimize interactions between the parents while allowing them to exchange vital information about a child’s well-being.

While co-parenting is ideal, it’s not always practical or healthy. Parallel parenting is good in high-conflict situations. One of the key benefits of parallel parenting for children is that both parents maintain a good relationship with their kids, and the parents don’t have to interact with each other.

One potential downside of high-conflict co-parenting strategies like parallel parenting is that it opens up the door for kids to play the parents off of each other because communication is kept to a minimum.

Benefits of Parallel Parenting

When both parents want to be involved in their children’s lives but cannot maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship, parallel parenting can be a preferred approach.

The benefits of parallel parenting include reduced conflict and tension between the parents and the two homes, better-established boundaries, predictable and established communication methods, lower stress levels (due to reduced contact and arguments), and overall improved co-parenting skills.

While it may be ideal for both parents to cooperate and communicate with each other instead of in parallel, it’s important to consider the impact that ongoing conflict can have on the psychological health of the child.

Contact an Experienced Child Custody Attorney

Navigating parallel parenting, including creating a parallel parenting schedule, can be an important step in ensuring that your children have a healthy and stable living situation. To learn more about parallel parenting, contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at 866-349-4907 for a consultation.