When family law judges in Texas are called upon to make child custody and visitation decisions, they tend to prefer co-parenting arrangements. This approach is preferred because studies have shown that children fare better and succumb to depression less often after a divorce when they spend time with both of their parents, but it may not be practical when parents harbor ill feelings toward one another. In these situations, a different approach known as parallel parenting could make more sense.
Parallel parenting allows parents to share child care duties, but it does not require them to work together. Instead, each parent has defined areas of responsibility. For example, one parent may deal with the child’s health care needs, while the other parent makes decisions regarding the child’s education. A parallel parenting arrangement gives both parents plenty of time with the child, but it minimizes the time they spend with each other. These arrangements are often put into place on a temporary basis to give parents time to resolve their differences.
Good for parents and children
Parallel parenting arrangements can be good for parents and children, and they can prevent bitter child custody disputes. They shield children from conflict and allow them to spend time with both of their parents, and they give divorced parents time to recover emotionally. However, parallel parenting can be confusing for children when parents take different approaches to child care and set different boundaries. When parents do not communicate, these inconsistencies cannot be addressed. These problems may be minimized if parents go into parallel parenting arrangements with a clear plan and defined goals.
The chief benefit of parallel parenting arrangements is reduced conflict. They allow parents to spend time with their children, but they minimize the amount of time they spend with each other. Parents usually want their children to be happy even when they harbor resentment toward one another, and parallel parenting allows them to achieve this goal without working together. When joint decisions have to be made, parents may avoid confrontation by communicating through their attorneys or other third parties.