Which kind of divorced parenting arrangement will work for you?

Ohio law requires that child custody decisions be made in the best interests of children, and that usually means keeping both parents actively involved in a child’s life (even if the split isn’t 50-50), so long as both parents are fit.

Each case is unique, of course, but if you are a parent and are about to go through a divorce, you may need to be prepared for some sort of split parenting relationship with your ex-spouse. Worried it can’t be done? That’s a common reaction. But the good news is that there are a variety of ways to parent successfully as two single people after a divorce.

Two opposite ends of the spectrum

A recent article in Psychology Today discusses two approaches to divorced parenting that are on opposite ends of the spectrum. They are co-parenting and parallel parenting.

Co-parenting is a full partnership wherein both parents frequently communicate with one another, work out rules and schedules that are consistent between households and consult with one another about child-related decisions large and small. This is considered the ideal. But like all ideals, nearly no one can fully achieve it.

Parallel parenting, by contrast, is an arrangement in which each parent does their own thing and greatly limits contact with the other. The children adjust to two distinct households and the styles of parenting, rules and schedules that come with each.

Parallel parenting sounds like it would be nightmare for all involved, but it can work surprisingly well as long as both parents are trying to act in their children’s best interests. The reason parallel parenting can work is that it is a means of preventing conflict between parents who either cannot get along with one another or who cannot see eye to eye about parenting practices. Even if kids must adjust to two different households, it is usually a healthier choice than exposing them to high levels of conflict. Studies have shown that high-conflict divorces and post-divorce lives tend to have the most damaging effects on kids.

As noted above, post-divorce parenting is a spectrum. You and your ex-spouse will likely take an approach somewhere in between co-parenting and parallel parenting. The important thing to remember, though, is that a variety of approaches will work as long as you are keeping your children’s best interests in mind.