Options for custody when co-parenting just isn’t going to work

Often, for divorced parents the ultimate goal for child custody is to reach the “peaceful” place where you and your ex-spouse can effectively co-parent your children…the ‘holy grail’ of your post-divorce life with kids .

However, in some cases, cooperative parenting is just not a reality. For those situations, sometimes Parallel Parenting is a more fitting plan for child custody arrangements.

Here are our top three key tips to “AIM” for an effective Parallel Parenting arrangement:

1) Avoid extensive and/ or emotional communication: emotional conversations or emails between ex-spouses are likely to create a tense atmosphere and lead to unproductive “he said/she said” back and forth rather than discussing the point of the communication. Develop an email template to discuss necessary parenting issues and stick to that template, avoiding any issues of blame and leaving out all potentially inflammatory language. Resist the temptation to deviate from the plan to make that “one last point.” Inevitably, it leads down a path that creates more harm than good.

2) Itemize the rules: the more detailed your plan is, the less wiggle room there is for dispute. If there are issues which need to be more flexible, develop a formula for reaching a resolution for when flexibility doesn’t work. For example: to decide upon who has what vacation weeks in the Summer, set a deadline for 1st choice, a deadline for 2nd choice and alternate priority choice from year to year. If you don’t need the deadlines, great! If you do, they are there to fall back on and create a framework for more positive discussion.

3) Make sure you plan ahead: nothing creates more tension than last minutes changes and disorganization. To effectively plan ahead, ensure you have your paperwork handy and ensure all of the essential players do as well. It is helpful for not only you both , but for teachers, therapists, coaches, etc to all know the ‘rules’ you have in place relative to communication and your child.

About the Author:

Sarah Jacobs is dedicated to protecting the interests of clients in family law proceedings. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and Qualified as a Mediator, Sarah possesses nearly 20 years of experience practicing law throughout the State of New Jersey. Together with partner Jamie N. Berger, Esq. their boutique Morristown family law firm is managed with the goal of providing high-quality service tailored to each client's individual needs. In her capacity as both a family law mediator and litigator, Sarah works with negotiation-minded clients in a cooperative setting. She is also a skilled litigator with the knowledge needed to take even the most complex cases to court, if necessary.

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