You know what I think? I think for the sake of the children, the courts should stop requiring parties who share children to get along with each other! It seems obvious to me that when parties divorce, it is for a reason. Usually, that reason is one of them has grown weary of the other whom they view as narcissistic, controlling, and a bully. One of them is tired of the other‘s vindictiveness; tired of participating in the competition that the other turns every interaction into. It’s the same when it comes to unmarried couples who share children. The reason they never married is all too often that they see (in advance) qualities in the other that militate against the idea of marriage. Parties can love their children without loving each other. In New Jersey, public policy dictates that parties share “joint legal custody” even though the time spent with the children is unequal. The problem with co-parenting is that co-parenting requires the parents to agree on parenting issues. The fact of the matter is that if they could agree, they would likely either still be married or still be in a relationship.
In the co-parenting relationship, you have to agree. Mom says, “I want Amir to attend a charter school. It’s very near my house and I’ve met the teachers and the school seems great!” Dad says, “I want Amir to attend a Catholic school. Everyone knows that catholic school education is better, schools are safer and there are fewer discipline problems.” You know who breaks that tie? The court! It is precisely because the court has to break the tie over and over again as parents who do not get along return again and again that court dockets remain full. The court decides which activities the child will attend, which colleges they will attend whether they will get braces or other non-emergency treatment. This is not what courts should do or can do effectively while the poor children are caught in the conflict.
Parallel parenting does not affect who has residential custody but dictates that each parent does what he/she wants with the children without having to consult or agree with the other parent other than on those matters that require an economic contribution from the other parent or infringes on the other parent’s parenting time. There are several huge advantages to parallel parenting.
While co-parenting sounds like a good idea, all too often it is not. It sounds like a good idea to have parents get along, but courts are not set up to manage personalities and behaviors. When the court forces a co-parent to co-parent with one who is controlling, or competitive, or vindictive, or narcissistic it can actually be unhealthy and undesirable, if not harmful. So, what I think is that as you go back to court, or deal with court-ordered parent mediators, you need to demand the use of the parallel parenting model rather than a co-parenting model. You should present to the court: