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Posted On April 26, 2021

Help for High-Conflict Custody Cases

When divorce leads to conflicts with child custody issues, a parallel parenting plan can minimize parental contact and improve communication between spouses.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

A parallel parenting plan is often used in child custody cases where parents have trouble getting along with each other. While most co-parenting plans allow spouses to communicate and work out agreeable solutions for child custody issues, parallel parenting allows for spousal detachment.

Parallel parenting does not mean “no contact” between parents. It allows parents to engage in less communication about day-to-day child custody issues and take more control without the other parent’s approval. A parallel parenting plan set up by a family law attorney gives each parent control over their parenting responsibilities while children are in their care. Parents are not required to communicate about anything other than serious child-related matters or emergencies.

Unfortunately, all divorces do not end amicably, especially when children are involved. In many cases, existing marital problems between spouses escalate with divorce and create high-conflict child custody cases. Parallel parenting plans are often used to lessen conflicts in certain situations.

  • One/both parents harbor resentment due to divorce
  • One/both parents do not communicate
  • One/both parents refuse to work together
  • One/both parents disrespect the other’s wishes
  • One/both parents have problems with domestic violence
  • One/both parents have emotional/mental problems

When a family law attorney establishes a parallel parenting plan, communication between parents becomes less emotional. Instead of face-to-face or telephone contact where the other parent’s voice may trigger arguments, alternative ways of communication are established.

In high-conflict cases, a parenting coordinator or special master may be appointed by the court to oversee parenting and help resolve conflicts. If parents agree, a family law attorney can draw up a stipulation with a court order. If parents do not agree, the court can order it without parental agreement. When parents agree, a parenting coordinator or special master can still report to the court if one or both parents are interfering with the other parent’s legal custody rights; creating conflicts through difficult or unreasonable behaviors; or exhibiting behaviors that are harming the children.

The main goal of parallel parenting is not to avoid parenting conflicts, but to avoid conflicts in front of the children. Studies show that children who witness personal conflicts between their parents involving emotional behaviors like shouting or yelling, or physical behaviors like pushing, shoving, or hitting often suffer from psychological and behavioral problems in their own life.

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