Parallel parenting ideas
What is parallel parenting?
Whilst it is important for separated parents to try and maintain some form of co-operation with each other, many struggle to form a true co-parenting relationship where they agree on all decisions regarding how their children will be raised. Co-parenting can often give rise to one party feeling like they are being mistreated by the other.
Another way is to try and develop a parallel parenting model after separation. The aim is to facilitate emotional healing from the relationship while prioritising the children’s needs and protecting them from conflict. Parallel parenting tries to increase safety for both children and parents by deliberately keeping communication between the separated parties to a bare minimum. While major decisions can be agreed upon together, each parent adapts their parenting method when the child is in their care. This allows for distance between the separated parents without depriving the child of a parent and sets clear boundaries that prevent further abuse or conflict.
Creating a clear parenting plan is one way to achieve parallel parenting as the more detailed the plan, the less likely arguments will arise and thus minimal contact between the adults is required. Parenting plans are also designed to have more flexibility than a ridged Court order and can cover anything to do with the child including:
- Timing of visits, including dates and start and end times
- How any cancellations should be handled and when and how they should be communicated
- How often the child will see each parent
- Who will attend school functions or doctor visits?
- Who will drop them off and pick them up?
- Where will the child spend their holidays and birthdays?
- Setting out financial responsibilities and dos and don’ts
It is also advisable for the separated parents to communicate only when necessary and for this to be usually via email or a parenting app so what is discussed and agreed can be documented. It is important for all communication to be impersonal and matter of fact, discussing only topics that relate to the child and sharing no personal information or detail.
If parallel parenting or the creation of a parenting plan is not achievable, the Court can become involved in setting out a Child Arrangements Order governing the separated parents on contact with the child. However, this should be seen as a last resort.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.