If you and your ex-spouse have children together, then your relationship will not totally end with the divorce. Unless there is a history of substance abuse or violence in your household, it is highly likely that both you and your ex-spouse will share physical and legal custody of your children.
However, if you have a very acrimonious relationship with your ex-spouse or he or she has narcissistic tendencies, the idea of continuing to parent with him or her might seem overwhelming. In this situation, parallel parenting may be a good choice. Parallel parenting involves sharing custody of the children but never being in the same space with your ex-spouse at the same time.
What does it look like?
A typical co-parenting arrangement involves both parents attending events to show support for the child. For instance, a divorced couple may indeed show up together to watch a child’s baseball game. They may even bring their new partners if any exist.
With parallel parenting, one parent would attend the game. The other parent could attend post-game festivities. Alternatively, one parent may be in charge of everything having to do with baseball while the other parent takes control of the trombone lessons.
How does this help?
Having the parents separated is helpful because it removes the children from the conflict. Additionally, the less contact you have with a toxic ex spouse is likely better for your mental health.
Depending on the problems at hand, a successful parallel parenting relationship may be able to evolve into a more traditional co-parenting arrangement over time. Alternatively, a permanent parallel parenting situation may save you a lot of personal grief.