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Co-parenting post-divorce vs. parallel parenting

Most parents untying the knot in Texas are likely to have some type of arrangement that allows both parents to spend time with the children. There are times when concerns about a child's safety and well-being warrant sole custody. However, courts often prefer to keep children involved in both parents' lives post-divorce whenever possible.

Decisions made involving a joint child custody agreement are typically based, in part, on former spouses' ability to co-parent effectively. Essentially, this means parents are able to put aside lingering bitterness and animosity so they can both be involved in their child's life. Another approach to co-parenting is what's termed "parallel parenting," which is basically an arrangement where parents remain engaged with their children but disengaged with one another.

With parallel parenting, parents generally agree on major issues like medical concerns and religion while making decisions about house rules and daily logistics separately. This means each parent has to give up some degree of control. This arrangement is sometimes preferable if parents aren't able to communicate post-divorce in a way that's healthy for their children. If this the case, there is usually more of a need to develop a detailed, clear structure to minimize conflict potential.

True co-parenting only works if there is mutual respect and an ability to communicate and interact in a way that's cooperative. Communication with parallel parenting, however, is more indirect - e.g., emails, texts, or online calendars. The goal with both co-parenting and parallel parenting is to do what's best for children while reducing conflicts between exes. And in some instances, parents opting to maintain a healthy distance develop restored trust that transitions into a more traditional co-parenting arrangement.

Regardless of what type of arrangement parents prefer after a divorce, it's possible for a child custody dispute to develop. Should this happen, an attorney may be able to seek a mutually acceptable resolution. If matters escalate or involve allegations of visitation violations, a lawyer might recommend a custody modification or intervention from the court. Legal assistance can also be provided if there are related issues with failure to provide support payments.

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