While co-parenting and parallel parenting sound similar, these are actually very different ways for parents to raise their children after a divorce. Co-parenting and parallel parenting involve very different relationships between the parents post-divorce, and they are options for divorcing parents under very different sets of circumstances.
What is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is a post-divorce parenting arrangement in which both parents continue to jointly participate in their children’s upbringing and activities. This involves a substantial amount of interaction between the parents (both in public and in private).
In order for it to work, both spouses need to be fully committed to maintaining civility and setting aside any differences for the benefit of their children.
When divorcing spouses choose to co-parent, they must develop a co-parenting plan as part of the divorce process. This plan is designed to help ensure that they are on the same page enough to co-parent effectively and to proactively address issues such as healthcare decision-making and extracurricular transportation so that opportunities for conflict are minimal. Co-parenting isn’t right for everyone; but, when it works, it can help children and parents alike cope with life after divorce.
To learn more about co-parenting, we encourage you to read:
- 15 Tips for Creating a Co-Parenting Plan During Your Divorce
- Co-Parenting is Often the Best Solution for Everyone Involved
- How Technology Helps Co-parenting after Separation or Divorce
- How to Frame Your Relationship with Your Ex for Successful Co-Parenting
- Studies Demonstrate Importance of Both Parents’ Involvement with Children After Separation or Divorce
What is Parallel Parenting?
Despite sounding similar, parallel parenting is in many ways the opposite of co-parenting. When parents are constantly in conflict and unable to communicate effectively, the parallel parenting model allows the parents to spend time with their children independently in order to minimize the risk that their hostile relationship will be harmful to their children.
Rather than structuring a co-parenting plan that fosters joint interaction between the parents and their children, divorcing spouses will develop a parallel parenting plan that minimizes the need for interaction as much as possible. However, due to the nature of relationships requiring parallel parenting, developing a parallel parenting plan often means going to court and having a judge establish a plan based upon the arguments and evidence presented by both spouses.
In circumstances that call for parallel parenting, the parents will typically need to establish legally-enforceable rules and requirements regarding issues such as:
- Speaking negatively of one another in front of their children
- Using their children as an intermediary for communications
- Decision-making authority regarding shopping, friends, curfew, extracurricular sign-ups, and similar child-related matters
- Appropriate times for communicating outside of their children’s presence
- Monitoring and scheduling children’s communications with one parent during the other’s parenting time
The More-Traditional Alternative: Parenting Time and Visitation
While co-parenting and parallel parenting are options under appropriate circumstances, many divorcing parents will find that their best option is still to structure a more-traditional parenting time and visitation schedule. If you and your spouse are willing to put your children’s best interests first but you aren’t interested in maintaining an active relationship once your marriage is over, then establishing parenting time and visitation rights will likely be your best option.
Learn more about parenting time and visitation in New Jersey:
- New Jersey Parenting Time and Visitation – An Overview
- Understanding Parenting Time in New Jersey
- What Divorcing Parents Need to Know about Joint Custody in New Jersey
Schedule a Confidential Initial Divorce Consultation in Hackensack, NJ
If you are contemplating divorce and would like more information about the options that are available for protecting your relationship with your children, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with an experienced divorce lawyer at our family law offices in Hackensack, NJ, please call (201) 654-4263 or request an appointment online today.