Many Virginians have heard of the term “co-parenting” for sharing custody after a divorce. However, it isn’t always possible to co-parent; in certain situations, parallel parenting is more appropriate. This is what it means and when it should be used.
Understanding parallel parenting
Parallel parenting is an option for divorced parents who want to share child custody but cannot work together. It is an appropriate model in family law in a contentious split or when problems were present during the marriage such as abuse. Instead of the parents working together as is done with co-parenting, each party works independently to continue raising and maintaining their relationship with the child. However, there is limited contact between the parents that usually only occurs when serious issues arise in the child’s life.
How parallel parenting differs from co-parenting
The main difference between parallel parenting and co-parenting is the amount of communication between the parents. Whereas co-parenting sees regular give and take between the parents for the benefit of the child, parallel parenting only involves curt communication that’s right to the point and only when absolutely necessary. Parents also make their own decisions regarding the child and don’t check in with each other on them, which means each could maintain different parenting styles.
When parallel parenting is appropriate
Situations such as domestic violence or narcissism make it appropriate to use parallel parenting. This is because it’s impossible to work together and co-parent if these conflicts exist.
If domestic violence was an issue while the parents were married, the court may only allow both to have custody if the abuse was targeted toward the other parent. If the child was abused, the court might reject giving custody to the perpetrator.