When parents in Illinois get a divorce, they might know that the ideal is a cooperative, communicative co-parenting relationship. However, despite these good intentions, in some cases, there may simply be too much conflict for this to be successful. Since research has shown that seeing conflict between their parents is usually the most damaging element of divorce for children, parents may still be able to provide a healthy environment of sharing custody and visitation by avoiding direct contact.

This is sometimes known as parallel parenting, and it will require extensive planning in order to make sure that parents do not need to check in with one another regularly. They will still need a way to share information, so they might agree to share calendars or only communicate using email. In contrast, a successful co-parenting relationship usually includes a great deal of communication.

Respect for one another and for the child’s relationship with the other parent underlies this communication and is the basis of a strong co-parenting relationship. For parallel parents, respecting the child’s relationship with the other parent means letting go of the desire to control that relationship. However, parallel parents may find that their children want or need a different arrangement as they get older. Some years after the divorce, parallel parents may also find that they are able to co-parent.

The hardest part of divorce may be negotiating child custody or going through a custody dispute in court. However, parents should try to stay focused on the best interests of the child. This is the standard a court uses in making decisions about custody and visitation. Whether they are co-parenting or parallel parenting, they can create a parenting plan that addresses any concerns they have about rules and expectations for the child and parents’ responsibilities for various elements of the child’s life.