While establishing parental rights in a divorce has traditionally focused on the concepts of custody and visitation, increasingly, the family law courts in Ohio are emphasizing the idea of “parenting time.” Although the underlying legal principles are still the same – focusing on establishing parental rights and responsibilities in the child’s best interests – the shift to the idea of parenting time is meant to emphasize the importance of both parents playing an active role in their children’s lives.
When it comes to establishing parenting time, divorcing parents have a variety of options. With regard to scheduling, they can alternate weeks, maintain a more-traditional schedule of the children spending every other weekend with a non-custodial parent, or choose another schedule that meets their needs while also serving the best interests of their children.
With regard to the method of parenting and the level of interaction between parents, divorcing parents can formally establish parameters through the use of either co-parenting or parallel parenting.
What is Co-Parenting?
In a co-parenting arrangement, both parents jointly play an active role in their children’s lives following their divorce. They jointly make day-to-day decisions about their children’s education, extracurricular activities, privileges, and needs, and they may even jointly participate in child-centric events (such as games, competitions, recitals, and holidays).
In order for a co-parenting arrangement to work, both parents need to be willing to commit to the approach, and it will be important to develop a comprehensive co-parenting plan during the divorce process. From establishing a “home base” for your children’s belongings to making decisions regarding cell phones and curfew, there are lots of questions that it will be best to answer upfront in order to avoid potential disputes down the road.
What is Parallel Parenting?
Parallel parenting is in many ways the opposite of co-parenting. In a parallel parenting arrangement, each parent operates fully independently of the other with regard to their assigned parenting time. This approach is generally reserved for high-conflict situations where divorcing parents are harboring feelings of resenting, disrespect, or hostility, and where there is not a reasonable expectation that the parents will be able to make even relatively-inconsequential decisions together.
As with co-parenting, however, a comprehensive parenting plan is critical to establishing a successful parallel parenting arrangement. The parents should use the divorce process (including mediation or arbitration, if necessary) to come to terms on as many child-related issues as possible, and establish clear lines of delineation for when each parent has decision-making authority.
Choosing an Option More Similar to Joint Legal Custody
If you think of co-parenting and parallel parenting as two ends of a continuum, many divorcing parents will find that what works best for their situation falls somewhere in the middle. When developing a parenting plan during your divorce, what is most important is not the label you place on your arrangement, but rather ensuring that your arrangement works for everyone involved.
As with the other aspects of your divorce, the more effort you put into developing a parenting plan, the more certainty and confidence you will have once the process is over, and the less likely you will be to face disputes with your former spouse.
Schedule a Free Initial Divorce Consultation at Laubacher & Co.
If you have children and are thinking about filing for divorce in Cleveland, OH, one of our attorneys would be happy to meet with you in person to discuss your options in confidence. To schedule a free initial divorce consultation at Laubacher & Co., please call } or send us a message online today. Evening and weekend appointments are available.