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What is the Difference Between Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting in California?

Posted on July 15th, 2022

Our Los Angeles family law attorney at the Harris Family Law Group understands that parenting after a divorce can be challenging. Since both parents — and their children — are new to splitting their time between two households, it seems impossible to get it right immediately.

With a little trial and error, parenting plans will shape your children’s emotional stability and overall well-being, so focusing on an approach that works for your family is a good start.

Two popular child custody approaches in California are co-parenting and parallel parenting. To follow we discuss the differences.

What is Co-Parenting in California?

Co-parenting is exactly like it sounds: It is a collaborative approach to raising children through shared custody and parenting time.

This allows parents to share the parenting responsibilities, includes both parents in how the children are raised, and encourages the kids to build and/or maintain strong relationships with both parents.

Communication is critical to successful co-parenting, which is why it may not work for everyone. Typically, in co-parenting relationships, the parents share a cordial relationship or may even be friends.

Co-parenting often requires both parents to be:

  • Flexible
  • Patient
  • Willing to compromise

When co-parents can communicate often and effectively, there are numerous benefits, including:

  • Decreased conflict
  • Increased stability and consistency in rules, routines, and schedules
  • Better communication between parents
  • Positive relationships with both parents
  • Decreased feelings of the children choosing sides

If you and your ex-spouse have a friendly relationship, and both want to be involved in the day-to-day decisions for your children, co-parenting may be right for you.

What is Parallel Parenting in California?

Parallel, by definition, is side by side and having the same distance continuously between them. When it is referenced in a parenting narrative, it is not much different.

Parallel parenting is only like co-parenting in that both parents share custody of the children.

Co-parenting involves collaboration, lots of communication, and a shared approach to discipline, homework, and curfews.

Parallel parenting minimizes communication between the parents and allows each to proceed with their own parenting approach when the kids are in their custody.

This parenting approach typically works well for parents who are unable to communicate effectively, or who are often engaged in conflict and cannot work as a co-parenting team.

The benefits of parallel parenting may include:

  • Reduced stress for the children and parents
  • Minimizing the conflict between parents, thereby limiting the children’s exposure to it
  • Opportunities to foster relationships with each parent separately
  • Full autonomy concerning their desired parenting style and household rules

Parallel parenting also gives each parent the space they need to heal from the divorce, so they can move forward with confidence and provide a loving and caring home for the children when they are in their care.

Which Parenting Method is Best for Your Family?

At the Harris Family Law Group, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys know that it is impossible to get parenting right all the time. Even when children are raised in a two-parent household, no one is perfect.

After a divorce, it may take some time to determine which parenting approach is right for you, or you and your ex-spouse. Remember, no two families are the same. That means what may work for your divorced friends, family members, or coworkers may not be the answer for you.

Only your family can determine what works and what does not.

The best interests of the children should always come first. If that is the focal point of your custody exchanges, then you cannot go wrong — no matter what type of plan you have in place.

Contact Our Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Los Angles, California Today

If you have questions about divorce and child custody, contact our skilled family law group by scheduling a free consultation today by calling (310) 745-8644.

At the Harris Family Group, our Los Angeles County divorce attorneys collaborate with clients using flat fees, instead of billable hours, which allows you to plan your expenditures upfront, so you can have confidence in your financial future.