Should You Consider Parallel Parenting With Shared Custody?

Divorce is an emotionally difficult process. Even if you start with the best intentions, you might come out the other side never wanting to see your ex-spouse again. Unfortunately, if you have shared custody of your kids, that may not be possible. 

However, there are techniques for maintaining joint custody without forcing yourself to remain in constant contact with your ex. Instead of collaborative coparenting, you may consider parallel parenting methods. 

What Is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel parenting is a technique in which you and your ex divide your responsibilities instead of collaborating on decisions and events. It aims to provide both parents with custody while protecting kids from unnecessary parental tension. By dividing responsibilities and expectations, you reduce the amount of contact you need to have with your ex. 

This is very different from coparenting. In a coparenting relationship, you and your ex would collaborate to demonstrate a united front to your kids. You might attend events together to support them and set similar rules and expectations. That’s not the case with parallel parenthood.

One option is to set rules and make decisions for the kids during your parenting time without consulting the other person, and let your ex do the same. The other is to divide your responsibilities in advance. For example, you might make all education and religious decisions while your ex handles medical care and extracurriculars. This keeps your communication with the other person minimal outside custody exchanges and emergencies.

Parallel vs. Coparenting

Here’s a breakdown of how the two approaches compare:

ResponsibilityCoparentingParallel Parenting
Attending children’s eventsBoth attend when possibleAdults take turns attending events or only attend those during their time 
Setting rulesAdults work together to set rules that are consistent across householdsEach adult sets rules for their home, so there may be differences
Making decisionsCollaborative, with both adults having a say in kids’ education, medical care, and religious upbringingSeparated; either the adults make decisions independently during their time, or they divide responsibility for these decisions by subject
Communication between adultsFrequent, to ensure everyone is on the same pageMinimal, often restricted to emergencies or critical, time-sensitive matters

Who Benefits from Parallel Parenting Methods?

Coparenting is often recommended for people with joint custody, but it only benefits your kids if you can be professional with your ex. If you struggle to talk with your ex, or if they turn every conversation into a fight, parallel parenthood may be a better solution for you. It gives your kids the benefit of an ongoing relationship with both parents without constantly exposing them to your arguments. 

Discuss Your Child Custody Plan With the Viola Law Firm P.C.

If you’re going through a difficult divorce or need a new or updated custody order, you might consider parallel parenthood for your plan. At the Viola Law Firm P.C., our experienced San Mateo child custody attorneys have decades of experience helping families set up plans that work for parents and kids alike. Schedule your consultation to find out how we can help you get a parallel parenting plan in your custody order.

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