Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

Parallel Co-Parenting in a High-Conflict Divorce: 12 Tips for Making It Work

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

The parallel co-parenting parenting model can successfully provide optimal nurturing that makes up for differences in parenting styles. Parents work together to provide their kids with the best possible start in life!

What Is Parallel Co-Parenting?

You are a person, as is your spouse. You may also be a spouse or a parent. In a marital dispute, you and your spouse may not agree with each other 100 percent, or even 100 percent of the time (or vice versa!).


If you and your spouse are not at peace in this situation, this is not a problem - neither one of you can unilaterally decide that the other person is to blame. In a divorce, the court rules on behalf of both spouses and is not in charge of negotiating the child custody or custody modifications in a divorce. In many situations, one parent may be the more "assertive" parent, and the other parent may take on a "supportive" role in the parent/child relationship. This is why joint guardians ad litem (or "JAL") meetings need to be scheduled to discuss child custody matters. Both parents want to have as much influence as possible as children's legal representatives. Joint JAL meetings allow both parents to discuss the issues in a "family-friendly" manner.

Many parents who have joint legal guardians will never reach an agreement and, as a result, children will be divided up amongst the parties, creating a more confusing legal situation. Joint guardian sessions are more effective because the judge has a chance to learn about all sides of the issue and can reach a decision that is in the best interests of both parties' children. This can lead the judge to make a more compassionate and fair decision. The goal of joint JAL meetings is to create a collaborative legal environment that promotes the goal of "maximum parenting time," and gives children as much access to both parents as possible while minimizing conflicts between the parents.

How Does It Work?

In a parallel co-parenting plan, you and your spouse co-parent equally in everything the child knows, does, wants and needs. With your co-parenting plan, your spouse is a much more valuable parent than a traditional dual custody plan, because:

Your family will more likely get along.

Your partner will be more present, involved, a caregiving partner, and your partner's involvement with the kids will have a much greater impact.

Your partner has much more to offer your kids in terms of parenting skills, relationship building, and financial contribution than a traditional dual custody family:

  • Your spouse will often be available to help you provide for both kids simultaneously.
  • Parents will feel more comfortable going to your home to do things at home
  • Joint parent/child support will be easier to establish and maintain.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.