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Parallel Parenting: A Viable Option for High-Conflict Divorces

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Child Custody and Support NY

Parenting after divorce can be extraordinarily challenging, especially if you and your ex don’t really get along and can’t communicate effectively. If this is your situation, parallel parenting might be a viable option.

If you’ve never heard of the term “parallel parenting,” you’re not alone. It’s a relatively new phrase being used to describe an old form of parenting after divorce, where there’s as little contact between parents as possible. While regular communication between parents regarding their children might be the optimal situation for all involved, sometimes this is simply not possible if the parents cannot communicate without arguing or fighting. In these cases, parallel may be the only option.

Here’s what to know about parallel parenting and how to get the legal help you need from a qualified New York divorce lawyer when important child custody matters are on the table.

Parallel Parenting Defined

Parallel parenting refers to ex-spouses who parent their children alongside each other instead of with each other, which can be a great option for exes who can’t interact civilly. In these cases, the child spends time with each of their parents in the parent’s home and has a set schedule of when this happens. Other important matters, like where the child will go to school and what kind of healthcare they will receive, are also decided at the start of the parenting relationship.

This pre-planning allows parents to engage with their child on their own terms, without having to communicate or negotiate with the other parent. Both parents know what to expect and when to expect it, which eliminates surprises and potential disagreements about custody or visitation matters. However, both parents are barred from deviating from the agreement and aren’t able to talk to each other to work things out on the fly if the situation calls for it.

How is Parallel Parenting Different from Co-Parenting?

Parallel parenting and co-parenting are both intended to help preserve the relationships between children and their parents after a breakup or divorce. With co-parenting, exes typically work together to make decisions about their child’s health, education, and time spent with each parent. They can text or talk to each other about discipline, medical appointments, and changes to the schedule as needed.

With parallel parenting, however, responsibilities are clearly established at the start and each parent is required to abide by them exactly. This allows each parent to spend time with their child and be involved in their child’s life without having to interact or even talk to their ex.

For example, instead of using a co-parenting app to discuss which family your child will spend holidays with this year, the matter would have already been decided when the court order was originally issued. Both parents are responsible for picking up and dropping off the child at the predetermined time and place and if they don’t, it could become an issue of parental kidnapping.

Tips for Making Parallel Parenting Work for You

If you’re considering parallel parenting, there are a few things to keep in mind and some steps you can take to prepare, like:

  • Being ready to adhere to a strict schedule
  • Having a contingency plan already in place if one parent has to cancel their custody or visitation time (this is usually only permissible in the event of an emergency)
  • Outlining when and in what situations each parent has the power to make decisions for the child
  • Committing to not being in the same place at the same time with the other parent
  • Respecting the time that your child spends with their other parent
  • Not insulting or belittling your child’s other parent in front of them
  • Having a divorce mediator or family law attorney on hand to communicate with your ex on your behalf

How an Experienced New York Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you have a child with someone you no longer want to be in a relationship or even communicate with, getting untangled can be an intimidating and frustrating process. Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can help. Our veteran New York divorce and family law attorneys can go over your legal options and help you understand them so you can make informed decisions about your family’s future.

Contact us today to learn more about parallel parenting or to schedule your free initial consultation to talk about the details of your case and how to move forward. Call now by dialing 631-923-1910 or by completing our online contact form and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible to answer your questions.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
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Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
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