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Challenges parents may face in parallel parenting

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Some parents in Louisiana who are getting a divorce want to protect their children from tension, but their relationship might be so high-conflict that this is difficult to do. Instead of co-parenting, which requires a high volume of communication and the ability to cooperate, these parents might want to consider parallel parenting.

Research indicates that it is more the conflict between parents than the divorce itself that is most damaging to children. If children are protected from this conflict, they may adjust better. Parallel parenting prevents their exposure to this conflict by keeping parents apart even if they share custody or one has visitation rights. The first step for parallel parents is to create a detailed and highly structured plan that will reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings or conflict. They should also set up an indirect method for communicating. This might be email.

Parents who choose parallel parenting may have a lot of unresolved emotion about the marriage and divorce. This approach prevents them from putting the child in the middle. They must relinquish the temptation to control the child's relationship with the other parent. After a few years pass, parallel parents may find that they are able to communicate and move closer to a co-parenting arrangement.

Attorneys might assist parents who are considering this type of arrangement in negotiating the child custody plan. Even in negotiations, parents do not necessarily have to speak to one another; they may work through their attorneys. One parent might also be required to pay child support to the other, which does not require direct contact. If there is a change in circumstances in the future, such as one parent relocating or changing jobs, parents might have to return to court to get a modification in custody or support.

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Craig E. Gibbs, Attorney at Law
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