Even if unmarried parents decide they will move forward with a co-parenting arrangement, the reality of that decision could be more challenging than the idea. Perhaps they do not get along, or they constantly disagree over how to parent their children. These consistent disagreements can lead to a larger conflict that disrupts the commitment to co-parenting the kids.

Parents in this kind of situation might wonder: How can they keep co-parenting despite not getting along with the other parent? In some cases, the answer could be parallel parenting.

What is a parallel parenting arrangement?

Like parallel lines, parallel parents do not intersect. But what does that mean?

The purpose of a parallel parenting arrangement is to allow parents to continue co-parenting their children but limit any direct contact between the two of them. That way, parents facing high conflict can reduce or even eliminate the risk of disputes.

For example, in this arrangement, both parents adhere to their custody agreement under North Carolina law, but they:

  1. Maintain strict boundaries, limiting communication.
  2. Parent separately during their own parenting time, with no interference.

This situation removes the stress or pressure that parents might feel by decreasing contact with the other parent.

Does parallel parenting really work?

Parallel parenting might not be the solution for every family. Every family is different, after all.

However, many parents facing high-conflict situations have found parallel parenting to be beneficial. If parents choose to move forward with a parallel parenting arrangement, they must plan carefully. For example, they must:

  • Have a specific strategy for communication. Some parents limit communication to email or text message only. Others use parenting apps;
  • Create a plan for how to make significant decisions in the child’s life, such as those regarding their education or medical treatment; and
  • Ensure they put their child’s best interests first.

Even if parents face high conflict, they often can still agree that they want the best for their children. Therefore, it might be beneficial to consider a parallel parenting arrangement in tough situations.