Parallel Parenting and Child Custody

Posted on November 10, 2023 by Alex Bourne

Unified Lawyers Alex Burne

Alex Bourne

Alex practices almost exclusively within Family Law, where he has extensive experience in all family law related matters, including Property, Parenting, Divorce, LGBTI property settlements, De-Facto Relationships and Child Support. Alex regularly appears before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in often complex Family Law litigation including Parenting and Property matters.

Key Takeaways

  • Parallel Parenting is a strategy that promotes healthy relationships between separated/divorced parents and their children.
  • It provides numerous benefits for the child, such as reducing conflict exposure and enabling both parents to remain actively involved in their lives.
  • Unified Lawyers’ child custody lawyers Sydney can provide experienced family legal assistance to create a fair parenting agreement that puts your child’s best interests first.

Navigating the complexities of co-parenting after a separation or divorce is never a walk in the park.

While parenting will always have its challenges, when it comes to parenting after separation, there are alternatives to co-parenting that may bring peace of mind and protect your children from potential emotional distress.

One alternative to co-parenting is parallel parenting – a game-changing approach for high-conflict separated parents seeking to minimise direct contact while nurturing a healthy relationship with their children.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the world of parallel parenting and discover how it can create a more harmonious environment for everyone involved.

parallel parenting

What is parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting is a strategy designed for high-conflict couples who struggle to maintain a civil co-parenting relationship after separation or divorce. Instead of constant disagreements and emotional turmoil, parallel parenting allows each parent, as parallel parents, to focus on their individual relationships with their children while upholding separate parenting styles.

In a nutshell, it aims to create a healthy environment for the child without the need for direct communication and collaboration between the parents.

It’s effect on child custody

Parallel parenting enables both parents to fulfill their parental responsibilities without the need for direct communication, thus reducing conflict and protecting the child’s well-being. With this method, both parents can actively participate in their child’s upbringing, each employing their unique parenting styles.

During child custody disputes, establishing and enforcing a parallel parenting plan can help to ensure the responsibilities of being a parent is fulfilled by both parties. By disengaging from each other and focusing on their individual parenting responsibilities, both parents can maintain a consistent presence in their child’s life, contributing to their growth and development.

Our family lawyers Australia and the court system (where required) can assist in crafting and implementing parallel parenting plans, prioritising the child’s best interests.

Does it affect visitation rights?

Parallel parenting typically includes a comprehensive parenting plan that outlines visitation rights and schedule. This ensures access to the child for both parents while keeping direct contact between the parents to a minimum. This plan helps ensure that the child has access to both parents in a safe and secure way, as it outlines:

  • The specific times and dates when each parent will have visitation with the child;
  • Provisions for how the parents will communicate about the child’s schedule; and
  • Provisions for any necessary exchanges.

Various visitation schedules can be tailored to meet the needs and circumstances of the parents and children involved. Examples include a 50/50 custody schedule, where children spend equal time with each parent, or an 80/20 custody schedule, where children spend the majority of their time with one parent and the remaining time with the other parent.

In essence, this parenting style fosters flexibility in visitation rights, allowing each parent independence in their childcare approach and minimising potential conflicts, while also ensuring that the unique needs of each family situation is able to be accommodated.

If you’re interested in learning more about visitation and custody schedules, you can read our guide to custody arrangements, which includes examples of child custody schedules by age Australia.

Is parallel parenting the same as co-parenting?

Though parallel parenting and co-parenting share the ultimate goal of creating a healthy environment for the child, they differ in their approach and the level of collaboration required between parents. This makes the parenting arrangement of co-parenting vs parallel parenting strategies distinct from one another.

The parallel parenting model involves:

  • Limited communication between parents;
  • Separate parenting styles;
  • Allowing each parent to make decisions independently (where appropriate as “major decisions” require both parents to agree); and
  • Minimising conflict and allowing for a civil relationship.

On the other hand, co-parenting requires:

  • Collaboration and joint decision-making;
  • Parents working somewhat closely together to raise their child; and
  • Supporting and respecting each other’s roles and relationships with the child.

parallel parenting

What are the advantages to parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting can be a great way to ensure a child’s wellbeing during a custody battle, as it allows both parents to maintain their parental duties without direct communication, promoting harmony and reducing conflict.

Successful parallel parenting has a wide range of advantages, including but not limited to:

  • Reducing conflict exposure for the child, thereby shielding them from emotional and psychological harm
  • Allowing both parents to remain actively involved in their children’s lives
  • Minimising direct interaction between parents and allowing for independent decision-making
  • Ensuring that the children benefit from having both parents in their lives and being able to build a meaningful relationship, even if the parents don’t agree on everything.

Furthermore, this type of parenting cultivates a stable and peaceful atmosphere for children by limiting direct interaction and communication between the parents. This helps to prevent potential disputes and disagreements from occurring in front of the children.

Parallel parenting can be successful when parents have a high-conflict separation or divorce as both parents can stay involved in their child’s lives.

Are there any disadvantages to parallel parenting?

Despite the advantages of parallel parenting, there are of course, potential downsides too. For instance, the child may experience confusion due to the contrasting parenting styles, as they navigate different rules and expectations in each parent’s home.

Conflicting parenting styles can also lead to challenges in decision-making and communication, as one parent may have difficulty understanding or accepting the other parent’s approach.

Parallel parenting may inadvertently focus on the quantity of time spent with the child rather than the quality of that time, as parents may prioritise meeting the needs of the child while still tending to their own needs.

While these downsides may occur during parallel parenting, it’s important to remember that every situation is unique, and the way parallel parenting works in your situation will be significantly different to other situations.

How to create a legally binding parallel parenting plan

Formulating a legally binding parallel parenting plan is an effective method to facilitate a smooth transition for all parties and curtail parental conflict.

One way to do this is to consult with a family lawyer Sydney, such as Unified Lawyers. We specialise in child custody and parenting matters after separation and our lawyers can help you to draft a parenting plan that is tailored to your family’s needs and assist you through the process of making your parenting plan legally binding.

As family lawyers, our goal to ensure that your family’s needs are met when the family relationship has broken down and we understand the various unique factors that could impact your situation.

A parallel parenting plan may include:

  • A detailed parenting schedule outlining custody, responsibilities, communication methods, expenses, and conflict resolution procedures.
  • Specific guidelines, schedules, and provisions for potential disputes to ensure that both parents understand and adhere to the agreed-upon terms.

parallel parenting

Need help with a legal parenting agreement?

Parallel parenting offers a viable alternative for high-conflict former couples seeking to maintain healthy relationships with their children while minimising direct contact and collaboration. By understanding the differences between co-parenting and parallel parenting, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, you can make an informed decision that best suits your family’s needs.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a harmonious and nurturing environment for your children. By being open to new ideas and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can pave the way for a brighter future for your family, even after separation or divorce.

Should you need help with a legal parenting agreement or parallel parenting arrangement, our family lawyers at Unified Lawyers are here to help with child custody and post-separation parenting matters. We can help you with:

  • Navigating the legal process
  • Negotiating parenting agreements
  • Ensuring that the best interests of the child are prioritised
  • Resolving disputes and conflicts related to child custody and parenting arrangements

The court will always prioritise the child’s best interests when making a parenting order for disputed parents. Enlisting the help of our highly experienced family lawyers Sydney can help secure a fair, balanced parenting agreement tailored to your unique family circumstances.

If you’re looking for advice, help or guidance for family law matters in Australia, you can discuss your situation during a free consultation. Book online by using the button below or calling us on 1300 667 461.

Unified Lawyers Alex Burne

Alex Bourne

Alex practices almost exclusively within Family Law, where he has extensive experience in all family law related matters, including Property, Parenting, Divorce, LGBTI property settlements, De-Facto Relationships and Child Support. Alex regularly appears before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in often complex Family Law litigation including Parenting and Property matters.

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