Skip to Content

Parallel Parenting Time: A Solution for High Conflict Parents


Parenting after a separation or divorce can be a challenging journey, especially when communication and cooperation between co-parents is strained or non-existent. The concept of parallel parenting has emerged as an effective strategy to manage high-conflict situations while prioritizing the well-being of the children involved. In this blog, we will discuss how parallel parenting can be ordered in Michigan, and we offer insights, tips, and resources for families facing this unique situation.

Understanding Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is a co-parenting approach designed for high-conflict situations where parents have difficulty communicating and cooperating. In this model, each parent is responsible for the children during their designated parenting time, and decisions related to the children are made independently. The key principle of parallel parenting is to minimize direct contact and conflicts between parents, focusing instead on the best interests of the children.

Legal Framework in Michigan

In Michigan, the legal system favors parents co-parenting. Family courts also emphasize the importance of both parents maintaining a meaningful relationship with their children, while also recognizing the need to protect the children from exposure to ongoing parental conflicts.

Key Elements of a Parallel Parenting Plan Order

  • Detailed Parenting Schedule: A clear and specific parenting schedule is key to a successful parallel parenting arrangement. It should outline the days, times, and locations for exchanges, as well as any special considerations for holidays or vacations.
  • Communication Guidelines: Establishing clear guidelines for communication is essential. This may include using a designated communication platform, such as Our Family Wizard, setting specific times for updates, and outlining topics that can be discussed.
  • Decision-Making Authority: Clearly define which parent has decision-making authority for specific areas, such as education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities and how disputes are handled during each parent’s time with the children. This ensures that both parents have a say in their children’s lives, while minimizing conflicts.
  • Dispute Resolution Mechanism: The order should include a mechanism for resolving disputes that may arise. This could involve appointing a parenting coordinator, a designated mediator, a neutral third party, or a process for seeking court intervention when necessary.
  • Information Sharing: The order should outline how information about the children (e.g., school reports, medical updates) will be shared between parents. The goal is to maintain transparency while minimizing direct contact.

Practical Tips for Successful Parallel Parenting

  • Minimize In-Person Contact: Constant in-person contact is a breeding ground for tempers to flare.  Written contact allows both parties to cool down and consider the reasonableness of their arguments.
  • Commit to Brief Communications: Even in parallel parenting, some level of communication is necessary. Use the agreed upon or ordered communication platform, keep exchanges brief, business-like, and focused on the children’s well-being, and do not let your communications escalate into a dispute.
  • Consistency is Key: Stick to the court ordered schedule as closely as possible. Punctuality and reliability help build trust and stability for the children.
  • Respect Boundaries: Avoid interfering with the other parent’s time and decision-making authority. Even if you do not trust that they have the children’s best interest in mind, conflict between the parents is very detrimental to the children’s well being. If the other parent shows a pattern of poor decision making, the best process is to document the pattern, seek professional advice from a mediator or parenting coordinator, or seek court intervention.
  • Focus on the Children’s Well-Being: Always make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the children, rather than personal grievances or conflicts with the other parent.
  • Seek Support and Professional Guidance: Consider seeking support from a therapist or life coach.  A therapist will teach you coping mechanisms to handle the stress of the high conflict relationship, and also can teach you how to navigate your written disagreements.  For example, words such as “always” and “never” may hurt your credibility and aggravate the other parent.

Parallel parenting can be a valuable tool for families navigating high-conflict co-parenting situations in Michigan. By establishing clear directives in a court order and focusing on the best interests of the children, parents can create a stable and nurturing environment despite the challenges they may face. With dedication, clear boundaries, and professional help from a mediator or parenting coordinator, parallel parenting can provide a path towards a healthier and more harmonious family dynamic.  If you need assistance creating a parallel parenting plan, call the custody and parenting time attorneys at Kraayeveld Family Law at 616-285-0808 to have a free, no obligation consultation.