This article was written by Esme Hobbs from Ringrose Law- our exclusive family law solicitors in Sleaford.
When a relationship breaks down it is a very difficult and stressful time. Even more so when there are children involved.
In an ideal world, parents would still agree how they will bring the children up. They would work together to fix any issues.
If parents can co-operate, they can successfully bring up their children together. With good communication, parents can;
- Make decisions
- Arrangements, and
- Work through issues together
However, if communication is difficult, if there has been domestic abuse or there is a lot of conflict between parents, it may be more sensible to parallel parent.
In this article, we’ll look at the difference between co-parenting and parallel parenting.
Co-parenting is short for co-operative parenting.
It’s always in a childs best interest for parents to communicate and co-operate. But only if it safe and appropriate to do so.
This isn’t always easy to do. That said, it will help your children to cope with the changes they are experiencing.
You may agree to a shared care arrangement. Or you may make arrangements for the child to live with one parent and see the other parent.
This might be an informal agreement, or you may wish to apply to the court for a consent order to ensure you both understand what’s expected of you.
Tips For Co-Parenting
- Try to respect the other parent and their parenting style, even if it differs from your own.
- Remember that children can usually adapt well to having different routines and rules at each home.
- Decide the best way for you and the other parent to communicate. This could be by phone, text or email. Keep the other parent notified of any changes to your contact details.
- Always share information. Such as medical appointments, milestones or what the children have enjoyed doing with you.
- Try not to question the children about the other parent. If you have any questions then ask the other parent.
- Always talk positively about the other parent. Regardless of your own feelings about them. Speaking negatively could lead to parental alienation.
There may be time when you are unable to reach an agreement about a specific issue. If this is the case, try to negotiate and keep an open mind.
If you’re still unable to agree then you may wish to consider mediation. An independent mediator will facilitate a conversation and try to help you reach agreement. If this is unsuccessful then you may wish to consider an application to court as a last resort.
In certain situations of high conflict or volatility, some parents may feel it is impossible work with the other parent. Especially where there has been domestic abuse, either towards you or your children.
You may wish to completely remove your ex-partner from your life. This isn’t always that simple when you share children.
Parallel parenting could be a good strategy in this situation. It allows both parents to remain involved in the children’s lives with very little, if any direct contact with each other.
Each parent would make independent day to day decisions for the children while the children are in their care.
There would still need to be some communication for serious issues and decisions. These might be medical issues or what school the children attend.
Even if the child does not have contact with the other parent. If the other parent has parental responsibility, they’re entitled to know important information.
Benefits of Parallel Parenting
- Limited conflict between homes
- Reduced stress in high conflict situations
- You can keep some personal information confidential, or even agree to communicate via an agreed third party
- It can be an agreed platform, such as a parenting app
- More predictability over what communication will be received
- It doesn’t have to be permanent, for example the relationship between the parents could improve following a difficult divorce.
- Allows each parent time to think before responding.
- Children can continue to have a positive relationship with both parents.
Tips For Parallel Parenting
- If possible, come up with an agreed written plan for contact arrangements. Including times and locations of handover in advance. A third party could assist you in doing this
- Agree how to communicate including in emergencies
- Think about special occasions such as Christmas
- Agree a third party to help handovers if you don’t feel comfortable doing this. Also to supervise contact if there are safeguarding concerns
- Only communicate about important issues or to notify the other parent of emergencies
- Focus on your child
- Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent.
You and the other parent may reach an agreement on your parallel parenting plan. However, if there is high conflict this may not be possible.
If appropriate, you may wish to consider mediation. However if there are safeguarding concerns or there has been domestic abuse it may not be appropriate.
You may therefore wish to consider making an application for a child arrangements order, which would set out;
- Who the children live with,
- When they see the other parent
- Handover arrangements, and
- Other issues relating to contact
If you feel you need legal advice on these matters please contact Ringrose Law Children team on 0333 3580 393
Esme Hobbs is a Children Law Solicitor at Ringrose Law. Esme has experience in both private and public law children matters and regularly undertakes her own advocacy. She regularly represents victims of domestic abuse in both obtaining injunctions and within children matters.