Traditionally, after a divorce the parents share any children in joint custody. This means that both parents have equal legal and physical custody of the children. Most of the time, this manifests itself in co-parenting.
However, if you have recently gone through a very high-conflict divorce or your ex-spouse suffers from personality disorders, maintaining a co-parenting relationship might seem like an impossibility. According to Healthline, post-divorce joint custody situations that do not lend themselves to traditional co-parenting may benefit from parallel parenting instead.
What makes parallel parenting different?
In “normal” co-parenting situations, it is likely that the family will come together on certain occasions to celebrate things as a family. For instance, it is possible that the family will celebrate major holidays and birthdays together. It is also possible that the ex-spouses (with new partners if applicable) may attend sporting events or dance recitals together to support their children.
In parallel parenting, the parents are never in the same place at the same time other than for brief custody exchanges. In a parallel parenting situation, the child may have multiple birthday events. It is possible that one parent would attend the sporting event, and the other parent would attend the post-game pizza party.
How long does parallel parenting go on for?
This depends on the individual family. Particularly in cases where one ex-spouse suffers from personality disorders, parallel parenting may be the best choice. It allows the children access to both parents and shields them from unnecessary conflict.
In other situations, a period of successful parallel parenting might allow the situation to convert to a more traditional co-parenting relationship.