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When to Use Parallel Parenting Plans

Parents who separate will need to plan caring for their children and sharing custodial time and where they will live or how they will spend their time. A parenting plan is the parents’ written agreement about: (1) time-share: when the children will be with each parent; and (2) decision-making: how the parents will make decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.

With a written plan, you and your children will know what to expect and will have fewer conflicts about shared parenting time. Your children will benefit from having a routine they can count on.

Determining the best plan for raising your children after a divorce or separation can be contentious under the best circumstances. In a high-conflict situation, agreeing on a parenting plan can be even more complicated. In California, if parents cannot get along or cooperate on a custody agreement, a parallel parenting plan may be a good alternative – the parents who cannot work together will operate as “parallel parents”, not “co-parents”, with a plan that reduces parental interaction.

When determining if a parallel parenting plan is the best option, a court considers the following:

  • Continuing or constant feelings of anger or distrust between the parents
  • If the parents feel uncomfortable around each other
  • Whether one parent has a restraining order against the other
  • Whether the parents can or cannot communicate about or cooperate regarding their joint care of their child(ren)
  • Whether the behavior of either parent puts the child(ren) at risk

Under California law, each parent has a right to have a meaningful relationship with his or her child(ren) without the other parent’s interference. And, a child has a right to not be caught in the middle of parental conflict. When parents separate, the greatest predictor of a child’s well-being is the level of conflict between the parents, meaning that children exposed to high-conflict have a poorer prognosis of well-being. For this reason, the court’s main concern is the well-being of the children. If it the court finds it is in the best interests of the child(ren) for the parents to have as little interaction with each other as possible, the court can and will order a parallel-parenting plan.

If you are considering a parallel-parenting plan for your family, contact our experienced San Diego family law firm today. We are dedicated to helping you get through this difficult time.