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‘Parallel parenting’ in shared child custody arrangements

Divorcing parents in Virginia may be eager to cut ties with one another and go their separate ways. However, despite the end of their marriage, parents will still have one tie to one another — their need to raise their child together. Sometimes parents are on good enough terms with one another that they can “co-parent” — that is, make major life decisions on behalf of the child together and agree on the day-to-day raising of the child. This can be the case if parents share legal custody and physical custody.

However, many times parents aren’t so amicable post-divorce. That being said, they need not give up hope of co-parenting entirely. “Parallel parenting” might be a way they can raise their child or children together without necessarily having to consult each other on every single issue. In general, through parallel parenting, parents will make major decisions regarding the child’s life together but will let each other parent their own way on a day-to-day basis with little interference.

When incorporating parallel parenting in a child custody arrangement, the “rules” must be laid out in their child custody order. Each parent must agree exactly on what the rules will be with regards to their ability and need to communicate with one another. For example, they may agree to share a calendar with one another, and they may agree only to communicate with one another through email or text message. Their child custody order provisions on how any changes regarding child custody and visitation will be handled. This can reduce conflict for parents who couldn’t get along while married and can’t after their divorce. And, when there is less conflict between the parents, the child also benefits.

Whether it is through co-parenting or parallel parenting, children can benefit from being raised in an environment that is stable, supportive and loving. Even though they are divorced, parents still share the common goal of ensuring that their child is healthy and happy. By agreeing in their child custody settlement what the rules for raising the child will be, parents can reach this goal.

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