Many divorces essentially write themselves, but others are extremely contentious. Particularly if you have both a contentious divorce and children with a joint custody mandate after the divorce finishes, this can be a great source of stress.
Even if you have joint custody with your ex-spouse, this does not mean that a traditional co-parenting situation is right for your family, particularly if there is a high level of conflict. In this situation, parallel parenting may be the superior option.
How are parallel and co-parenting different?
Co-parenting generally involves the parents coming together for the good of the children. Even if the parents do not generally get along, they may jointly attend a child’s swim meet, for example, or co-host a birthday party.
In parallel parenting, the parents are never in the same place at the same time in order to reduce the potential for conflict. In this instance, perhaps one parent attends the swim meet and the other attends the pizza party that happens after. They may choose to have two completely separate birthday events for the child.
How is this beneficial?
The goal of joint custody is not to punish the parents. The goal is to ensure that the child gets equal time from both parents in his or her life. Parallel parenting allows this goal to take center stage and reduces the amount of conflict in the family. This benefits both the child and the parents.
In some situations, if enough time passes and the parallel parenting situation is successful, it is possible for the parents to transition into a more traditional co-parenting arrangement if this suits the needs and desires of the family.