Washington parents considering a split are generally prepared for animosity during the initial divorce or child custody proceedings. Conflict between parents is a major cause of stress for children who are already going through a dramatic reshaping of their world. The best-case scenario involves parents being able to put aside personal feelings to put focus on the best interests of the children in a collaborative co-parenting relationship. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. An alternative structure is a parallel parenting arrangement under which the parents communicate as little as possible and focus strictly on controlling their end of the arrangement. As with any parenting relationship, a parallel arrangement has its challenges.
If a parallel parenting plan is to be adopted, it requires meticulous planning. Attorneys, judges and mediators are typically skilled at asking all the appropriate questions to cover most contingencies, but input from each parent is key. The goal is to limit communication between the parties, but some communication is required, so the manner and form of those communications must be specified. Typically, email is preferred, but the parties must commit to checking email and responding as needed.
It is essential for parents to realize that children deserve a stable relationship with both parents, and undermining an ex-partner is doing a disservice to the child. While a specific plan should be followed, it will likely need modifications as children grow. Schedules and interests change, and being precluded from pursuing activities or relationships they want because of a years-old parenting plan can make children feel like victims of parental discord.
The best parallel parenting relationships evolve into more collaborative ones as time softens old hurts. Parents should always remember to put the children ahead of themselves. Anyone considering a divorce or revision to an existing child custody or visitation plan may want to consider consulting a qualified family law attorney. Qualified advocates may be able to guide parents through the process with the least amount of stress and make sure every base is covered.