All Family Law, All Around the WorldSM

Parallel Parenting to Help Lower Conflict

Dealing with the aftermath of a divorce can be challenging, especially when children are involved. For parents entrenched in high-conflict situations, the conventional wisdom surrounding co-parenting might seem like an unattainable situation. This is where parallel parenting enters the picture as a viable alternative, offering a pathway for both parents to remain actively involved in their children’s lives while minimizing conflict. Let’s explore what parallel parenting entails, its rules, how it differs from coparenting, and strategies for successful implementation.

What is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel parenting is a method designed for high-conflict divorced or separated parents who find it challenging to communicate without disputes. It allows both parents to stay involved in their children’s lives without the need for extensive direct interaction with each other. This approach minimizes conflict and emotional stress, not only for parents but also for the children caught in the middle. By setting clear boundaries and expectations, parallel parenting helps in creating a more stable and peaceful environment for everyone involved.

What Are the Rules for Parallel Parenting?

The foundation of parallel parenting lies in establishing a detailed parenting plan that outlines the responsibilities and boundaries of each parent. The plan typically includes schedules for custody, holidays, and special occasions, as well as guidelines for decision-making processes related to education, health care, often utilizing written forms like emails or parenting apps to avoid direct confrontations. 

What Is the Difference Between Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting?

While co-parenting encourages open communication and cooperation between parents, parallel parenting is designed for situations where such interaction might lead to conflict. Co-parenting works best when both parents can put aside their differences and work together for the well-being of their children. Conversely, parallel parenting provides a structured approach that limits direct interaction, allowing parents who cannot communicate appropriately to still play active roles in their children’s lives independently.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Parallel Parenting


  • Reduces Conflict: By limiting direct communication, parallel parenting decreases opportunities for conflict, creating a more peaceful environment.
  • Promotes Independence: It allows parents to nurture their relationship with their children without the interference of the other parent, fostering a sense of autonomy.
  • Protects Children: Children are shielded from parental conflicts, which can significantly benefit their emotional and psychological well-being.


  • Lack of Flexibility: The structured nature of parallel parenting can sometimes be rigid, making spontaneous decisions or adjustments more difficult.
  • Limited Communication: While reducing conflict, the lack of direct communication can also hinder the sharing of important information about children’s needs and achievements.
  • Potential Isolation: Parents might feel isolated from certain aspects of their children’s lives, as sharing experiences and information is limited.

The Role of a Support System in Parallel Parenting

Having a strong support network is crucial when it comes to parallel parenting. Friends and family can offer much-needed emotional backing, practical advice, and a safe space to vent frustrations. Professionals such as therapists can also play a key role in providing guidance and support. Moreover, joining support groups for divorced or separated parents can be indirectly beneficial. These groups provide a sense of belonging and understanding, as they connect you with people who are going through similar situations, allowing for sharing of experiences and solutions.

Top 5 Strategies for Effective Parallel Parenting

    1. Create a Detailed Parenting Plan: A comprehensive plan reduces misunderstandings and provides clear guidelines, helping to keep interactions business-like.
    2. Utilize Neutral Communication Tools: Employing email, parenting apps, or a shared calendar can facilitate necessary communication without direct contact.
  • Focus on the Children’s Needs: Prioritize the welfare and happiness of your children above all else, ensuring decisions are made in their best interest.
  • Seek Professional Support: Consider therapy or counseling for yourself and your children to navigate the emotional challenges of divorce and parallel parenting.
  • Establish Personal Boundaries: Setting and respecting personal boundaries can help maintain peace and prevent unnecessary conflicts.

Legal Considerations and Parallel Parenting Agreements

When embarking on parallel parenting, it’s crucial to consult a legal expert specializing in family law to solidify the arrangement with a legal agreement. This document should detail the parenting plan, including custody schedules, decision-making protocols, and communication methods. Legal agreements ensure that both parents are accountable and provide a framework for resolving disputes.

For those navigating the complexities of parallel parenting agreements, seeking legal counsel is advisable. The Manely Firm specializes in family law and can provide guidance and representation to ensure that your parenting agreement serves the best interests of your children while protecting your rights as a parent. Contact The Manely Firm for a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you in creating a comprehensive parallel parenting plan.