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What You Should Know About Parallel Parenting Plans Before Your Divorce

Parenting plans, required by most states, are one of the most difficult parts of the divorce settlement for many couples, particularly if you are in the midst of a difficult or hostile divorce. Despite its sensitive nature, the parenting plan is a vital component because it illustrates the expectations and plans for moving forward with the kids. If you and your spouse are not able to work together and come to mutual parenting decisions, you may want to talk with a family attorney about a parallel parenting plan instead of a standard co-parenting system. Here's a look at what you need to know about parallel parenting plans before you finalize your divorce.

What Is a Parallel Parenting Plan?

Unlike a co-parenting plan that involves both parents working together to make decisions and care for the kids, a parallel parenting plan creates a set of expectations for each parent individually. These plans are ideal for situations where you both struggle with communication or there is intense hostility between you. If you and your soon-to-be ex have trouble talking without fighting, this may be a better option for you.

How is it So Different?

If you're familiar with the expectations of traditional parenting plans, you may wonder what is so different about parallel plans. Here are a few of the features that make these plans unique.

  • Separation of Parenting Methods – one of the most significant differences is the freedom for each parent to set their own rules, establish their own expectations and make their own decisions about the child while in their care. There's no need for any mutual discussion or agreements in this situation, because each parent has control over their own home and environment. It does, however, mean accepting the fact that you and your spouse may have very different environments for the children, and you'll have to understand that you can't force your ex to change something just because you don't agree with it.  
  • Minimal Communication Required – This is a particular selling point for many when it comes to deciding what type of parenting plan is necessary. Since traditional parenting plans require parents to discuss all major decisions and come to agreements, these plans require you to be able to have frequent and civil conversations together. If you opt for a parallel parenting plan instead, you don't have to discuss any major decisions together. For relationships where civil conversation isn't possible, this can save everyone unnecessary stress. Under parallel parenting plans, you only need to share a few things, such as essential medical information, dates and times for school or sports events and other critical details. By limiting communication to only what's necessary, you can avoid any arguments or other problems. In fact, the communication is so limited that an email or text message would often suffice, taking the personal factor out of the equation completely.

What Considerations Affect Success?

The most important thing for you to remember if you're considering a parallel parenting plan is that it requires a certain amount of mutual respect. In order to obtain and maintain the general sense of peace that comes with this type of plan, you need to have a certain level of respect for each other's freedom. Avoid judging any parenting decisions that your ex makes, unless they put your children at risk. If you just don't like it, there's little that you can do. Keeping your calm and avoiding confrontation will make this whole process more successful.

Despite the fact that co-parenting is the standard for most courts, your family law attorney can help the courts understand why a parallel plan may be a better option in your situation. Be up front with your attorney about the issues that are leading you to want this approach so that he or she can help you determine how best to approach it.

For more information, contact an experienced law firm like Thomas & Associates, PC