Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Parenting plans: Parallel parenting vs co-parenting

The feelings of anguish, anger and pain experienced by some divorcing couples in Massachusetts can be overwhelming. Although acceptance may come over time, negative feelings may jeopardize their abilities to create parenting plans that would allow co-parenting without contention. With the help of a mediator, it may be possible to create a parallel parenting plan in those circumstances. This will limit the face-to-face contact between the parents, who can rely mostly on email communications.

A mediator can help parents draft a parenting plan that allows them equal time with the children. With specified times to exchange the kids -- preferably in public places -- little personal communication will be required. The plan can include arrangements for cancellations or changes to parenting time to help avoid further contention. Parents typically want what is best for the children, and although their love for each over may have waned, their love for their children deserves each other's respect.

With parallel parenting, each parent will be involved when important decisions must be made, such as medical decisions or educational matters. If these issues need to be addressed in person, a mediator may be a good choice to facilitate discussions. It is not uncommon for the antagonism in former spouses to develop into respect for each other over time. In some cases, parallel parenting may give way to an ongoing co-parenting arrangement. Although relationships may not always be amicable, they can be cordial.

When parenting plans are a central element in a Massachusetts divorce, it makes sense to discuss the issues with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can assess the unique dynamics of the family and suggest suitable options to achieve results that are in the best interests of the children. If mediation sessions are scheduled, each parent typically participates along with his or her legal counsel. 

Source: The Huffington Post, "What's The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex's Don't Get Along?", Terry Gaspard, April 1, 2016

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