Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting: Which Is Best?

What Is Co-Parenting?

After a divorce, parents often must find new ways to work together to parent their children. While your children's basic needs stay the same post-divorce, you may find that they need more support and care to help them adjust to their new lifestyle. Co-parenting is a parenting method in which both parents work together to raise their children. This is a collaborative style of parenting that is focused on ensuring a stable, supportive environment for the children.

Co-parenting requires open communication, flexibility, and the willingness of both parents to compromise when necessary. This can be challenging after a divorce. However, if you and your former partner are on good enough terms, co-parenting has many benefits.

The Benefits of Co-Parenting

The co-parenting process begins while you are still going through your divorce. As part of the divorce process, you will likely develop child support and child custody agreements. A parenting plan may also be part of this process. A major benefit to co-parenting comes early on: When parents can work together from the outset, they are better able to develop comprehensive parenting plans.

Other benefits of co-parenting include:

  • Reduced conflict for your children
  • Increased stability through shared routines and rules between households
  • Facilitation of communication between parents i
  • Parents are often able to attend appointments, meetings, school functions, and extracurricular activities together

When Co-Parenting Doesn't Work

For co-parenting to work, the children's parents must be on reasonable terms and effectively communicate with each other. This is not possible for all parents, even if their divorce was relatively amicable. In many situations, two parents have radically different beliefs and approaches to parenting, and they can never see eye to eye, regardless of how friendly they are with each other.

Furthermore, divorce is a highly emotional process, and for some couples, being in the same room as an ex is simply impossible. Additionally, suppose you have gone through an acrimonious divorce or were in a situation where you had to leave a manipulative or abusive ex. In that case, co-parenting may not be the best method for you.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

There are many circumstances under which co-parenting is not the best option for a family. In fact, trying to force a co-parenting relationship can be detrimental to both the children and the parents. Instead of struggling with a parenting method that just isn't working for you, you might want to consider parallel parenting instead.

Parallel parenting is a method by which each parent has their own, independent parenting style and rules when the children are with them. Everything regarding child-rearing is kept separate and, typically, parents do not attend the same meetings, appointments, or school functions. Additionally, communication is often limited and mostly done in writing. It is helpful to think of parallel parenting as the opposite of co-parenting.

The Benefits of Parallel Parenting

This style of parenting is often highly beneficial for families that are dealing with high levels of conflict. Just as with co-parenting, you can begin parallel parenting while working out your divorce and custody terms. Whether you and your ex outline a parallel parenting plan between yourself or it is developed for you by the courts, there are many benefits to this parenting style.

The benefits of parallel parenting can include:

  • Conflict is greatly reduced
  • Parents limit their contact with each other
  • The children's needs are put first
  • Boundaries and expectations are clear and strict

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, parallel parenting also offers the opportunity for children in high-conflict situations to find stability. While each household's rules and routines may be different, visitation and custody schedules are typically very strict, and the children know what to expect as they move between homes. Additionally, parallel parenting can decrease stressors and create a more emotionally stable situation for everyone.

How to Choose the Right Parenting Method for Your Family

There is no one answer to parenting post-divorce. While co-parenting works well for some families, parallel parenting is a better option for others. Neither style is better than the other. Both have their own benefits and drawbacks. When going through a divorce, you should consider what parenting method speaks most to your family's dynamic.

Resist the urge to compare yourself to other co-parenting situations. Every family is unique, and you are doing your best to meet your family's needs. If you are struggling with your current parenting plan or custody arrangement, it may be worth seeking a modification. For example, if you initially established a co-parenting relationship, and it isn't working, modifying your parenting plan to something closer to parallel parenting might help the situation.

However, before making any modifications, you should speak with an experienced attorney to determine if this is best for your situation. The lawyers at DeTommaso Law Group are experienced and highly qualified. We are standing by to discuss your case and are prepared to use our knowledge and experience of the modification process to help you and your family. Contact us today.

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