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What to do about child custody when the parents can't get along

Celebrities make co-parenting look so easy. The media likes to tell stories of how celebrities manage to take vacations together with their kids and spend the holidays together after a divorce.

While that may work for some couples, others may want to do the same but simply can't. When there are just too many bad feelings between Illinois couples, co-parenting may not be a good option. But what other alternatives are there, especially if the judge didn't grant you primary custody?

Enter parallel parenting

Even in the midst of a high-conflict divorce, children benefit by spending as much time with both parents as possible. However, you can't yet envision a time when you can be in the same room as your ex without arguing. Parallel parenting could provide you a way to spend time with your children while having little to no interaction with your ex-spouse.

How does parallel parenting work?

Ordinarily, a judge is going to want to see that parents can work together so children don't become alienated from one or both parents. That leads many parents to set aside their differences and create parenting plans on their own. If that just won't work, you could ask the judge to consider a parallel parenting plan.

A parallel parenting plan includes some key factors that could make this process easier for you if you don't get along with your ex:

  • Communication is limited to issues regarding the children such as illnesses, school performances and the like. You communicate only through email or text message in order to lessen the chance of getting into a confrontation.
  • Parenting time is strictly scheduled, including holidays and other special events. No changes may occur without prior arrangements through email.
  • Drop offs are ordinarily done at a neutral location, usually in public to limit the potential for arguments.
  • You attend child-related events separately and sit separately, like parent-teacher conferences, sporting events, music recitals, other performances and graduation. If the school needs a court order to comply, the court may provide one.
  • You agree to a few parenting ground rules that remain consistent in both households. For instance, issues such as bedtime rituals, homework and mealtimes, among other things, should be fairly consistent between both homes.

In some cases, court monitoring and intervention may be required on a more consistent basis. However, if you can come to an agreement regarding the children before going your separate ways, everyone stands to benefit. Parallel parenting can offer the stability children need in addition to the separation you need to move forward successfully from a divorce.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Belleville, IL 62220

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