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What is Parallel Parenting?


The main principle of parallel parenting is that each parent maintains an active and healthy one-on-one relationship with their child while interacting with his or her ex as little as possible.

The concept was introduced as a way for ex-partners who are at odds with one another or unable to communicate civilly to focus on their children’s wellbeing without having to engage with one another.

Are co-parenting and parallel parenting the same thing?

The term co-parenting refers to any efforts two parents, usually exes, make to raise their child cooperatively despite not being involved in a romantic partnership.  In that sense, then, parallel parenting is a form of co-parenting that’s geared toward exes whose relationship is fraught, adversarial, or dysfunctional for one reason or another.

To prevent inevitable conflict or anguish, parallel parents instead opt to avoid interaction unless absolutely necessary.  They may not attend the same functions, doctor’s appointments, school meetings, or athletic events as their ex and generally live their lives entirely separately.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t communicate at all.  In a typical parallel arrangement, parents might touch base strictly over email to agree on the significant decisions about their child’s health, education, and general upbringing, while allowing whichever parent has physical custody at a given time to make day-to-day decisions.

Parallel parenting plans also often involve a strict schedule that both parties must adhere to, which should cover the following details:

  • Specific days and times each parent has custody
  • Pick up and drop off locations
  • How emergency cancelations will be handled
  • Who is responsible for transportation
  • How to handle disputes that emerge between parents over the schedule

What are the advantages of parallel parenting?

Both the child/children and the parents whose circumstances make parallel parenting necessary stand to benefit from such an arrangement.  Kids don’t have to worry about being caught in the middle of two fighting, resentful, or hostile parents—something that could project unnecessary stress and affect them mentally, emotionally, and even academically.  Parents can simplify their relationship with one another, removing emotions and instead focusing solely on the wellbeing of their kids.  Eventually, after a time, parents in a parallel arrangement might even find the closure and distance from the relationship they need to feel comfortable moving toward a more collaborative co-parenting setup.

Find out from a compassionate Fresno & San Diego family lawyer if parallel parenting is right for you

Parallel parenting is not the right type of custody and visitation plan for all exes, but under the right circumstances, it can be ideal.  If you are considering a parallel arrangement, or simply want more information about your co-parenting options, call the Law Office of Rebecca Medina at 559-324-5427 in Fresno or 858-285-4315 in San Diego, or contact us online and schedule a consultation today.

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced Family Law attorney, mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer serving the Fresno and San Diego areas. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, QDROs and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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