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Coparenting can be collaborative or parallel

Illinois parents headed for divorce are generally most concerned about child custody arrangements. The best parenting arrangements are collaborative and encourage as much communication as possible between the parties. Unfortunately, this can be quite counterproductive when there is a high degree of acrimony between the parties. If parents simply cannot interact without causing stress to their children, a parallel parenting plan may be the best option for everyone considered.

In a parallel parenting agreement, the parties agree to a plan that meticulously accommodates as many contingencies as possible under the guidance of family law professionals such as attorneys and mediators. The goal is to limit interactions between the parties to coordinating logistics involving the children in a predetermined manner. Typically, email is the preferred mode of communication, and messages are businesslike and formal. The parties must give up the notion of controlling or being involved in activities while the children are in custody of the other parent. For many, this can be liberating, but it is abundantly stressful for others. Whatever the frustration level is for a parent, acceptance of the reality is mandatory unless he or she wishes to run afoul of the courts.

It is important for parents to understand that the best path to well-adjusted children involves them having a healthy and stable relationship with both parents. Any effort to undermine or micromanage the other parent's relationship with kids is a disservice to the children. As parents learn to work together in a parallel parenting relationship, it can evolve into a more collaborative one over time as tensions fade.

Child custody plans need to grow and evolve with children as their interests and schedules evolve. Whether a parent is considering an initial family split or revisiting a current parenting plan, consulting a qualified family law attorney may be a prudent step. An experienced advocate may provide an overview of the law and a roadmap for avoiding mistakes in the process of meeting a child's needs.

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