Very few divorces are amicable, and many are downright hostile. In these cases, it is extremely unlikely to get through the divorce proceedings in a timely and cooperative manner. Contentious parts of the process, such as parenting plans (covering custody arrangements and decision making), only fuel the fire.
If this situation describes you, you may benefit from creating a parallel parenting plan instead of a traditional one. This approach can help you and your ex focus on the children while experiencing less emotional turmoil through disengagement.
What is a parallel parenting plan?
This type of plan allows for co-parenting without having to interact with your ex. You may each receive decision-making authority in different areas if you cannot agree on major topics. You also get to determine small, daily parenting choices while the children are with you.
The plan is very thorough and specific to eliminate the need for communication between you and the other parent. If contact is necessary, you use indirect methods such as email or a notebook. Meeting with a neutral third party is another option.
What are the benefits?
A parallel plan offers a way for children to still have a relationship with both of you. It also creates a safer environment for the children by protecting them from being in the middle of unhealthy conflict between you and their other parent.
It gives you two time and space away from each other until emotions reach a point where you both can be more civil. Following the parenting plan helps you and your ex learn to trust each other to some degree. The ultimate goal is for you eventually to be able to communicate and cooperate with each other.
What are the challenges?
Of course, this style is not necessarily easy just because it is helpful. It can be hard to relinquish control of what your ex does and to not have disagreements. Going to therapy can help you learn healthy coping skills. If the plan does not work, you can seek a modification.