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Alternatives to cooperative co-parenting

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Child Custody

Co-parenting has become the new gold standard for shared custody arrangements. People who successfully co-parent typically have a relatively even division of parenting time. They cooperate to make important decisions for their children. They may even host shared birthday parties and celebrate holidays as a unit instead of separately for the benefit of their children.

Co-parenting is an admirable goal that can diminish how challenging a change in family circumstances might be for the children. However, co-parenting can be very difficult for adults to manage. In some scenarios, such as situations involving abuse or coercive relationships, co-parenting may not even be a healthy or realistic goal.

What are the alternatives to co-parenting if constant cooperation is not a realistic goal for a family?

Parallel parenting

Parallel parenting involves two adults doing their best to raise children together in separate households. However, they do not necessarily engage in frequent interactions with one another. Instead of shared holidays and birthdays, they may split or alternate those special events with their children. They likely also have strict communication rules in place to diminish conflict. Parallel parenting is all about boundaries and mutual accountability. Parallel parenting arrangements are a viable option for those who have too much conflict to co-parent, but who still have the same overall priorities for their children.

Traditional shared custody

A traditional shared custody scenario likely involves strict adherence to court documents. Parents may need to have rules in place for everything from how they communicate to where they exchange custody of the children. In the most extreme cases, one parent may even request supervised visitation or custody exchanges for their protection or the safety of the children. Traditional shared custody arrangements may work for parents who are able to interact civilly at some level so they can ultimately agree on key decisions, like the kind of medical care or educational support their children require.

Sole custody

In rare cases where one parent does not wish to play an active role or is incapable of doing so, the other parent could seek sole custody. Typically, one parent requesting sole custody needs compelling evidence if they hope to prevail in family court.

For many families, co-parenting might be the best possible arrangement. Still, it isn’t a solution that works universally. Parents negotiating shared custody matters can achieve the best outcome when they consider every option. Recognizing when co-parenting may or may not work can be a good starting point for those worried about sharing parental responsibilities effectively.