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Parallel Parenting: A High Conflict Co-Parenting Model

Brad Micklin-Parallel Parenting: A High Conflict Co-Parenting Model

When a marriage ends on bad terms, those feelings don’t go away just because the divorce has been finalized. Negative vibes from your marriage might linger as you begin your journey as co-parents, and they can lead to unpleasant encounters with your ex during custody exchanges, at your kid’s sporting events, or during birthday parties. Ongoing conflict becomes a significant issue for parents who need to maintain some level of contact with their ex as their child grows up.

With most co-parenting plans you would expect both parents to show up to every important event. However, if you went through a high conflict divorce with your ex-spouse, this arrangement may not be healthy for you, your ex, or your child. Luckily, you can choose to forgo the typical co-parenting expectations in favor of a parallel parenting plan.

What is Parallel Parenting?

A parallel parenting plan attempts to minimize contact between parents while allowing both to spend adequate time with their children. It allows parents to split important events, such as sports games, parent teacher conferences, and school plays. With a parallel parenting plan, parents communicate only when necessary. Since your kids won’t see constant conflict between their parents, a parallel parenting plan can help them feel more safe and secure and prevent damage to your relationship with your child.

Many high conflict family law attorneys in New Jersey will recommend a parallel parenting plan to any parents who have problems with their ex. Trust issues, problems with finances, and other common reasons for divorce can all translate into a toxic co-parenting relationship; it’s better to agree to certain boundaries right from the start.

How to Make A Parallel Parenting Plan that Works

You and your New Jersey high conflict child custody lawyer will have to get together with your ex and her attorney to determine the details of your parallel parenting plan, such as:

  • The percentage/amount of custody time each parent will have
  • The start and end times of each visit
  • The location for pick-ups and drop-offs (for example, does it need to be at a “safe exchange” site?)
  • How you’ll handle cancellations, illnesses, and last-minute changes
  • How you’ll handle future disputes, which is best handled through a mediator

Most parents would prefer to create their own parenting plan instead of leaving things up to the court. By taking the time to create a parallel parenting plan with your ex and your New Jersey high conflict divorce lawyer, you’ll avoid the sometimes lengthy process of the court deciding how custody of your child will be split. However, even exes who can’t agree on the terms of a parallel parenting plan can request that a judge create a parallel arrangement in the final custody order.

Communicating with Your Co-Parent

Many parents who are considering parallel parenting wonder how this type of plan can be effective with minimal communication between parents. There are several options for communicating with your ex about your children even if you have a high conflict relationship. Of course, you’ll have to keep your conversations factual and civil in order for your plan to work long-term.

Some New Jersey high conflict divorce attorneys will recommend phone apps and services to help their clients communicate with their exes. Companies like OurFamilyWizard offer a number of messaging and scheduling tools that allow parents to communicate in a business-like manner without involving past conflicts and negative emotions. In some cases, family law courts will even require parents to use monitored communications apps to prevent harassment and abuse.

Creating your Plan During the Pandemic

The pandemic has changed the way we do things – sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. In the case of high conflict divorces, the pandemic may actually allow high conflict co-parents to take the time and space required to create a thoughtful parallel parenting plan.

Ultimately, both parents should want what’s in the best interest of their child. If your high conflict divorce has made your ex vindictive or destructive, our New Jersey high conflict child custody lawyers can help you keep your cool and successfully create a parallel parenting plan to benefit your relationship with your child. To get started, schedule a consultation by calling 973-562-0100.

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