Managing a joint custody situation after a contentious divorce is challenging. While the divorce may have given you the separation you need from your ex-spouse, if you have children together it is likely you will need to work together as parents.
Parallel parenting is an arrangement that can assist parents in such a situation. Whereas co-parenting involves the parents being together frequently, the goal of parallel parenting is to separate the parents as much as possible. According to WebMD, clear communication and parental separation methods are key to successful parallel parenting.
“Effective” communication does not mean “frequent” communication. Limiting your communications to email is wise. This is a more formal method of communication and removes the impetus to respond immediately.
There should also be a detailed parenting plan that outlines schedules and parenting methods that both parents agree and adhere to. If it is not possible for you and your ex to create an effective parenting plan due to hostility, hiring a mediator can help.
Part of the parenting plan should involve agreement on where pickups and drop-offs happen. In the event of an extremely hostile situation, some parents will have a third party transport the children between households. The third party could be a trusted family member or friend. Alternatively, pickups and drop-offs can happen after school or in a neutral zone like a parking lot.
Parenting after an acrimonious divorce can be challenging. However, having access to both parents is in the best interest of the child, and it is the parents’ responsibility to create a plan that supports this goal.