You love your children, and so does your future former spouse. You want to make the transition as easy as possible for your children as you go through your divorce and start new lives. However, you have one large issue — you have no desire and no inclination to spend any more time with your ex-spouse than you absolutely have to.
Your relationship has reached the point where being in the same room together only brings out the worst in each of you. Even so, you want your children to have as much time with each parent as possible. What can you do?
You don’t have to co-parent
You may be under the impression that the only way to ease your children into their new lives and help them thrive in the future is through co-parenting. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. Parallel parenting could work well for parents like you who want little to nothing to do with their ex-spouses. Under this parenting plan, you and the other parent agree to abide by the following:
- Limit face-to-face contact
- Create a specific and detailed parenting time schedule
- Abide by the schedule
- Agree to no flexibility in the schedule
- Parent independent of each other
- Keep track of events in the children’s lives on your own
- Do not rely on the other parent to provide information about events in the children’s lives
- Do not tell the other parent how to take care of the children, discipline them, etc.
- Agree to inform the other parent of emergencies
- Divide the responsibility of important care decision-making, such as medical decisions, religious upbringing and education choices, or keep these choices with one parent
- Devise a plan to handle any conflicts that arise
- Limit any necessary in-person contact to no more than 30 minutes
- Do not speak ill of the other parent around the children
- Do not argue or speak ill of each other in front of the children
- Carry out custody exchanges in a public place during business hours if possible
- Any needed communication should occur through text or email
- No phone calls or in-person contact except in an emergency situation
Unless there is a compelling reason to maintain this parenting style until the last child reaches adulthood, you could treat this as a temporary situation. In some cases, the feelings parents have for each other fade over time, at which point they may modify their parenting plan to reflect a better ability to get along and cooperate. In the meantime, the adults can go about their lives without intervention, and the children retain as much access to each parent as possible.
You don’t necessarily have to go to court to get this done
Parallel parenting may not feel like the ideal custody plan, but the benefits to the children are evident. They can enjoy their time with each parent without panicking or experiencing any anxiety that their parents will end up arguing. More than likely, the effect your dissolving marriage has on your children is one reason why you decided to divorce, and this parenting plan can help you continue to protect them from your high-conflict relationship with your ex-spouse.
You could go through the court in order to develop a workable parenting plan, and many couples do. But, if you can sit down together long enough to create your own plan, you may feel better about it. In the end, what matters is that you show your children you love them by taking your personal relationship out of your relationship with them.