Parallel Parenting: A Lifeline in the Storm of High-Conflict Divorce

February 26, 2024

Divorce, a storm of emotions that can leave even the strongest couples battered and bruised. But amidst the wreckage, a beacon of hope emerges – parallel parenting. For those entangled in the web of high conflict, this model offers a lifeline, a path towards stability and minimized harm for your most precious cargo: your children.


What is Parallel Parenting?


Forget the picture of exes sharing coffee and PTA meetings. Parallel parenting is about minimizing direct contact. Think separate schedules, separate routines, even separate galaxies if possible. Communication happens through designated channels – emails and apps. Some parents even hire neutral third parties, like child exchange coordinators, become the bridge, ensuring smooth transitions and minimizing the risk of conflict flare-ups.


Why Choose Parallel Parenting?


For couples locked in a constant tug-of-war, parallel parenting offers a ceasefire. It’s not about dissolving the parent-child bond, but about safeguarding it from the corrosive effects of parental conflict.


  • Reduced Exposure to Conflict: Children are sponges, absorbing the tension and animosity around them. By minimizing direct contact, parallel parenting shields them from the emotional fallout of their parents’ discord.
  • Increased Stability and Predictability: Separate routines and schedules provide a sense of normalcy and stability for children, crucial for their emotional well-being.
  • Protecting Each Other’s Parenting Styles: This approach allows each parent to parent according to their own values and beliefs, without the constant friction of conflicting approaches.
  • Minimizing Manipulation and Triangulation: High-conflict situations often involve children or the other partner from being used as pawns. Parallel parenting reduces the opportunity for manipulation and ensures both parents are focused on their own relationship with their children.


Is Parallel Parenting Right for You?


While not ideal for fostering close co-parenting relationships, parallel parenting is a viable option for:

  • Couples locked in intense and frequent conflict.
  • Those with a history of verbal or emotional abuse or bullying
  • Situations where communication is impossible or toxic.
  • Parents who choose to not cooperate or try to bully the other parent


Remember, parallel parenting is not a permanent solution. It can be a temporary ceasefire while you work on your own emotional healing or a long-term strategy to protect your children.


Building a Successful Parallel Parenting Plan:


  • Seek legal guidance: An experienced lawyer can help you draft a comprehensive parenting plan that outlines separate schedules, communication protocols, and dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Utilize resources: Family therapists, co-parenting coaches, and mediators can provide invaluable support in navigating the complexities of parallel parenting.
  • Prioritize your children’s needs: Keep their well-being at the forefront of every decision. Consistency, predictability, and minimizing their exposure to conflict are paramount.
  • Use methods of communication that cannot be erased or encourage calls/texts. Such apps, like Our Family Wizard keep all communications as long as you are a customer and allow your attorney to review communications without you forwarding emails or texts.


Parallel parenting may not be the fairytale ending, but it can be a necessary chapter in your story. By prioritizing your children’s well-being and minimizing the impact of conflict, you can create a safe and stable environment for them to thrive.

Remember, you are not alone in this storm. I have helped parents draft parallel parenting plans. If you can agree on the how and you want an experienced attorney to help make your parallel parenting plan a reality, call or reach out.