Co-Parenting Vs. Parallel Parenting

Posted by Erin Birt | May 09, 2023 | 0 Comments

Co-Parenting Vs. Parallel Parenting

How divorcing couples choose to parent can be just as diverse as how married couples parent. It's not one size fits all. Every household has its own dynamic and is run differently, whether doing it together or apart. If you think of parenting styles as a spectrum, co-parenting and parallel parenting exist on opposite ends, with an array of blended options in between.

Neither style of parenting is better than the other. Every family is unique, and the goal is to develop and maintain a parenting plan that best fits your family. Both have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. The key is to remember that conflict is one of the most damaging situations to put your children in, so the desired goal is finding that sweet spot on the spectrum of co-parenting and parallel parenting where parents and children feel comfortable and secure.

What Is Co-Parenting?

Co-parenting is a method of parenting in which the two parents work together, collaborating to ensure the children have a stable, supportive lifestyle. Both parents maintain equal responsibility for their children's well-being. It involves both parents being able to amicably communicate with one another to make mutual decisions, as well as being able to see each other at events and special occasions like birthday parties. Both parents need to be on good enough terms to be flexible and willing to compromise. This doesn't mean there won't be hiccups to resolve, but any difference of opinion or conflict will get settled without shaking the child's sense of security.

Benefits of Co-Parenting

  • Provide children with a healthy model of a productive and respectful relationship despite differences
  • Help parents balance the responsibilities of parenting
  • Children benefit from the consistency of similar household rules and routines, making it easier for them to better understand what is expected of them
  • The children are less likely to feel torn or under pressure to choose sides

What Is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel Parenting is a parenting style where each parent runs their day-to-day household or schedule separately without the other parent's involvement. This is a common solution when the relationship between a divorcing couple is too difficult or has too much conflict for cooperation and communication. Communication is kept to a minimum and is often conducted through technology like emails or apps that allow for sharing calendars and other information such as health notes or school records. Each parent maintains their own set of household rules and does not attend the same events.

Like co-parenting, parallel parenting allows both parents to share custody and parental responsibilities. The parents just work parallel to one another instead of working together.

Benefits of Parallel Parenting

  • Each parent can still maintain a relationship with their children
  • Reduce stress for parents and children by reducing conflict
  • Give parents the time and space to heal from the wounds of the marriage and divorce
  • Give parents the ability to focus on building a new life

Which Is Right for Your Family?

Creating a parenting plan can be one of the most challenging aspects of divorcing parents, regardless of the couple's ability to communicate and compromise. There are many variables to consider, including whether parents will reside close to one another, the children's ages, and even how to handle extended family.

For instance, it is easier to create schedules when children are young. A teen might develop preferences and want to spend more time with friends.

To consider all that has to go into a parenting plan, using a mediator, attorney, or parenting coordinator is a good idea. If a couple can work out their parenting plan with the help of a mediator, they will spend less time in court. An experienced mediator can help identify details that might get overlooked, work out how to balance conflicting schedules, and will help keep the whole process on track and focused on a healthy end goal.

Whether you choose to co-parent, establish parallel parenting, or something in between, a parenting plan can be modified should the need arise. The experience and child centered services at Birt Law can provide the constructive guidance and practical advice needed to create an effective parenting plan that works specifically for you and your children. Call us at 630-891-2478 for a free 15 minute introduction call or to schedule a more in depth consultation.

About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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Family Centered Divorce ∙ Mediation ∙ Co-Parenting

Birt Family Law is the family centered law and mediation practice with a focus on Restorative Divorce; offering creative and supportive legal and mediation solutions with one goal: keeping the separating family out of court and working together towards a positive resolution.

We offer multiple options to achieve this goal including mediation, coaching, co-parenting strategies, and Restorative Divorce services. 

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