Your guide to parallel parenting

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Following separation and divorce, deciding on parental arrangements can be challenging and emotional. There is no ‘right’ answer when it comes to parenting post-separation and every family dynamic requires its own approach. Parallel parenting is one method used by separated couples who wish to keep contact with each other as limited as possible, whilst ensuring their children get their share of contact with both parents.

What is parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting is an arrangement where parents with joint custody have their own independent parenting style and have limited, mostly formal, contact with one another. Both parents will share their time with the child involved but they will remain separate in all interactions, whether that’s doctors’ appointments, school meetings or family events.

The parallel parenting method helps to limit opportunities for disagreement or conflict between separated parents and creates an environment for the child that is as harmonious as possible.

What are the benefits of parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting is particularly beneficial for couples who had a high-conflict relationship and/or divorce or where there is a history of domestic abuse. It can also be useful for separated parents who are simply unable to agree on what’s best for their child.

Divorce takes its toll on children, and if a relationship breakdown has been particularly fraught, parallel parenting is a great way of minimising further conflict when it comes to childcare arrangements.

How does it differ from co-parenting?

Co-parenting is another common method of parenting after separation or divorce. It is a collaborative process that focuses on providing a stable, supportive and reliable environment for your child. However, co-parenting will only work for parents who have remained amicable and able to communicate effectively with one another.

Unlike co-parenting, parallel parenting involves as minimal communication as possible between parents, rather than working together to parent the child. Co-parenting can be a healthy way to collectively create the best upbringing for your child, but if this isn’t possible, parallel parenting is a good option. Reducing conflict enables parents to focus on their children and put their needs first.

To make co-parenting work, open and frequent communication is key to ensure everyone in the family is on the same page. However, with parallel parenting, a detailed and realistic plan should be laid out before pursuing this route to ensure boundaries and expectations are clear. If possible, it is ideal to come to a conclusion amicably amongst yourselves, rather than progressing to court proceedings. Our specialist solicitors can help you to achieve your goals at mediation.

How we can help you to establish a parallel parenting plan

Before making significant changes to the dynamic of your family setting, it is important you seek advice from an experienced family solicitor. We can support you in making the best decision for you and your child.

Our specialist child law solicitors can help you to create a written parenting plan which limits contact with your ex-partner and limits stress for your child.

A parallel parenting plan can include:

  • Formalising how you will maintain contact with each other, e.g. by email or telephone
  • Agreeing on the dates and times for each parent to have contact with the child
  • Establishing who attends the children’s doctor appointments or other events
  • Agreeing who will drop them off and pick them up in between visits
  • Setting out who the child will spend birthdays, holidays, half-term etc.
  • Setting out financial responsibilities, e.g. who pays for new school uniform

Contact our child law solicitors

Making child arrangements after separation or divorce can be difficult, especially if you experienced a high level of conflict or abuse during the relationship or after its breakdown. Not all couples can agree on parental arrangements, however, our specialist solicitors can provide you with some options and help you to establish a parallel parenting plan that works for you and your children.

To speak to our child law solicitors about a parallel parenting plan, or any other child contact matter, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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