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Parallel Parenting Plan in High Conflict Child Custody Cases

Parallel Parenting Plan in High Conflict Child Custody Cases

What is parallel parenting? It’ a type of parenting plan that is used more and more in divorce cases where a bridge is needed to cover the gap between the ideal situation post-divorce (no or very little conflict) to extremely high conflict cases. In the latter situation, there’s minimal room left to develop effective communication for an appropriate co-parenting relationship. This is where parallel parenting enters the picture.

First, you should understand what is being discussed when a situation is described as “high conflict.” When two parents don’t get along, we don’t necessarily jump to the high conflict label. High conflict is typically reserved for those situations when one or both of the parents involved is narcissistic or borderline personality or simply exhibits such hostility that co-parenting as we have come to know it is impossible.

In these cases, parallel parenting may be an appropriate alternative. It is, simply put, parenting without traditional co-parenting/communication. Parents who are parallel parenting their children are detached from one another and do not engage in frequent discussions regarding the daily lives of their children or themselves. Each of the parents is in charge of the children while they are under their care. Parallel parenting provides each parent with parental control over their own parenting time and parenting responsibilities during their specified parenting time. Decisions made on behalf of the children do not need the approval or even a discussion with the other parent unless it is an emergency. While parents using parallel parenting still have to have contact with one another, it is extremely minimal and only pertaining to issues that require discussion.

The parallel parenting plan depends upon more direct communication and cuts out emotion as much as possible in regards to the interactions between the two parents. For example, in most cases, the phone call or face to face meeting is discouraged or prohibited. Instead, parents would be encouraged or sometimes required to communicate by text or email, etc. in order to avoid high conflict “reactions” that are often triggered by visual contact or the sound of the ex’s voice on the phone. Written communication also avoids unnecessary opinions and comments that may otherwise be included in the discussion.

If you need more information about parallel parenting plans or if you have questions about legal decision making and your pending divorce, contact the expert divorce lawyers at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.
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