Parenting After Divorce: Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting in Illinois


Newly divorced parents often wonder how they’ll manage to co-parent their children when getting along with their ex-spouse feels like an uphill battle. Enter co-parenting and parallel parenting – two approaches that offer strategies for divorced parents to navigate the tricky terrain of raising children separately. Let’s explore co-parenting vs. parallel parenting and how you can implement a system that works for you and your family.

What is Co-Parenting?

Co-parenting is a collaborative parenting approach where divorced parents work together, share responsibilities, and make joint decisions about their children’s upbringing. These decisions include your children’s education, religion, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. 

Co-parenting allows divorced parents to:

  • Encourage their child to establish and nurture relationships with both parents
  • Divide the responsibilities of parenting
  • Guarantee each parent has a voice in determining how their child is raised

This method thrives on open communication, respect, and a shared commitment to the well-being of the kids. Ideally, co-parenting is most effective when both parents can put their differences aside and focus on the best interests of their children.

Benefits of Co-Parenting:

  • Stability for Children: Co-parenting provides a stable environment for children, ensuring they maintain close relationships with both parents. Stability is crucial for a child’s development.
  • Consistent Rules: Children benefit from consistent rules and expectations, promoting a sense of security in both households.
  • Shared Decision-Making: Co-parenting allows both parents to participate in major decisions about their children’s lives, such as education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.
  • Mitigating conflict for your children: By employing co-parenting strategies, you reduce tension and disputes that your children might witness or be affected by. 

What is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel parenting is an approach where divorced parents disengage from each other’s personal lives and minimize direct contact. Unlike co-parenting, parallel parenting involves limited communication between parents. Each parent takes care of the children during their respective parenting time without the need for extensive interaction with the ex-spouse. This method is often suitable for high-conflict situations.

Parallel parenting might be the right choice for those who:

  • Find it hard to talk to each other
  • Frequently have arguments or disagreements
  • And/or don’t want to co-parent or collaborate as a team with the other parent

Benefits of Parallel Parenting:

  • Reduced Conflict: Parallel parenting minimizes direct contact, reducing the likelihood of conflicts that can negatively impact children.
  • Reduced Stress: Parallel parenting eases the pressure on parents to adhere to their ex’s wishes or preferences, and allows them more freedom to choose their preferred parenting styles and household rules when their child is with them. 
  • Clear Boundaries: Parents maintain separate households, establishing clear boundaries for their respective responsibilities.
  • Emotional Distance: Parallel parenting allows emotional space for both parents, promoting healthier interactions with the children.
  • Relationship-Building Despite Conflict: Even if parents do not get along, children can still have a relationship with both parents.

Which Parenting Method is Best for You?

The choice between co-parenting and parallel parenting is not one-size-fits-all. In reality, many divorced parents find themselves on a spectrum between these two approaches. Some may lean more towards co-parenting during amicable times but shift towards parallel parenting when conflicts arise. Finding the right balance depends on the unique dynamics of your situation.

One key objective of these parenting strategies is to shield the child from unnecessary stressors, allowing them to enjoy a more carefree childhood. Following a parenting strategy that best fits your situation and reduces conflicts and stress ensures the child isn’t burdened with responsibilities beyond their age.

How a Parenting Plan in Illinois Can Help

A well-crafted parenting plan serves as the roadmap for your post-divorce parenting journey. It outlines schedules, responsibilities, and decision-making processes, providing a clear framework for both co-parenting and parallel parenting. With a parenting plan in place, expectations are set, reducing potential conflicts and offering a reliable structure for your children.

Divorce brings about many changes, but it doesn’t mean the end of effective parenting. Whether you opt for co-parenting, parallel parenting, or a mix of both, the key is to prioritize the well-being of your children. If you find navigating post-divorce parenting challenging, Reidy Law Office is here to offer guidance and support tailored to your unique situation. Let’s make your parenting journey after divorce as smooth as possible. Reach out to us today.