Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Parallel parenting can benefit parents in a high-conflict divorce

When parents in Virginia divorce, the pain, sadness and anger they may have with one another may not disappear the moment the divorce decree is signed. These emotions can still be felt for years to come. However, if the couple has a child together, they will need to work together in some capacity to raise their child despite their divorce.

In a perfect world, parents would be able to make child custody arrangements that allow them to co-parent. This means that they would share custody of their child and therefore must come to an agreement with regards to any major life decisions regarding their child, as well as how to handle their child's day-to-day care. They may also choose to attend important events in the child's life together. However, sometimes this degree of cooperation simply isn't possible. When that happens, parents may choose parallel parenting over co-parenting.

Through parallel parenting, parents will make major life decisions regarding the child together. This may include which doctor the child sees, what religion the child will practice and where the child will go to school. However, each parent will be permitted to make his or her own decisions regarding the child's day-to-day activities when that parent has the child in their care. When parents opt to raise their child via parallel parenting they need not have the same degree of communication with one another as they would have if they were co-parenting. In fact, their communication can be limited to emails, text messages and formal mediation, rather than having to discuss all issues on their own face-to-face.

So, when developing a parenting plan, parents need to consider how well they'll be able to cooperate with one another once the divorce is final. In the end, any child custody decisions must serve the best interests of the child. Children general thrive when their parents are not fighting with one another, either before a divorce or afterwards. Thus, if parents are unable to make co-parenting work, parallel parenting may be an option that best meets the needs of all involved.

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