The last thing you and your future former spouse want to do right now is play nice with each other, but you don’t necessarily want to argue either. You just want the divorce process to end and to get on with your life.
However, if you have children, you will need to figure out how to continue parenting them under these circumstances. You may believe that, since co-parenting is obviously out of the question, you will have to revert to an “old-fashioned” arrangement where one of you has the children the majority of the time and the other has a visitation schedule. The problem is that isn’t good enough for either of you.
There could be an alternative
If you and your future ex can agree that you want to share custody of the children as close to equally as possible, then you may be able to avoid that old-fashioned arrangement. Parallel parenting could provide the answer. Under this arrangement, you and the other parent have as little contact with each other as possible but as much time as possible with the children. Your parenting plan will include all the following general provisions:
- A predetermined method of communication when you need to share information about the children
- A specific parenting time schedule that is not up for negotiation once agreed to
- A predetermined — and usually public – pick-up and drop-off point
- A specific start time and end time for visits
- A way to deal with visit cancellations
- A way to resolve disputes when they arise
Depending on your family dynamic, you may add additional provisions in order to tailor the agreement to your and your children’s needs. The more specific your agreement is, the less room you leave for interpretation and misunderstanding, which could easily lead to arguments. The goal of parallel parenting is to give the parents the space they need in order to deal with their anger, hurt, resentment and other negative emotions.
Some parents never move past this stage, and that is okay. However, other North Carolina couples use parallel parenting to get them through the difficult time that follows the aftermath of a divorce. At some point in the future, you and your former spouse may no longer feel the same way. If that happens, you could move into more of a co-parenting relationship when you are ready.