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Parallel Parenting in California 2024: What You Need to Know

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | May 10, 2023

A divorce is never easy, and it can be even more complicated when you have children. Many divorced or separated parents can work together in their child’s interests. However, when there is especially intense conflict, co-parenting can be impossible. In these cases, parallel parenting may be an effective solution to allow parents to spend time with their children without needing to interact.

Defining Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting is a form of parenting time arrangement that is necessary if parents are unable to engage with each other amicably. Each parent focuses on caring for their child or children during parenting time with them. Parents provide parenting for their children parallel to each other. They interact minimally, only if necessary, or in an emergency.

The Goal of Parallel Parenting

The focus of parallel parenting is to connect with and provide benefits for your children and their needs. Your focus should remain on your kids, rather than what the other parent is doing. Minimizing conflict between parents is healthier for your children.

The precise way that your family divides parenting time and decisions will vary. Legal custody refers to making important decisions like healthcare and education. Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Both parents will create an agreement about custody and visitation through divorce mediation, or the court will assign a child custody order through litigation.

Commonly, a parallel parenting plan will provide joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Parents will follow the agreement or court order regarding legal custody and what decisions are made for their children. During the time children spend with each parent, that parent makes decisions about their daily lives.

Parallel parenting allows both parents to spend time with their children but doesn’t require them to get along for that to happen. Ideally, the passage of time allows parents to become less hostile toward each other following divorce or separation.

How Is Parallel Parenting Beneficial?

Parallel parenting is meant to allow both parents to heal, so they can eventually effectively co-parent their children. Until then, there are several benefits to a parallel parenting plan for contentious parents.

  • Better for a Child’s Health and Wellbeing
    Parallel parenting is much healthier for children. Otherwise, children have little to no contact with one of their parents or are constantly exposed to their arguing parents. Parental conflict can have a severely negative effect on children. By creating a parallel parenting plan, you can save your children a lot of stress and allow them to have better mental and emotional health. It can also help them adapt to the divorce or separation.Parents can also improve a child’s mental health during divorce by ensuring that children know what to expect. Keep up communication with your kids, and explain how day-to-day life will function. Try to create a parallel parenting plan that has a routine. Make a plan for each day and for when a child is moved from place to place, and stick to that routine.
  • Lessens the Stress on Each Parent
    This parenting plan can also lessen the mental and emotional stress that parents feel after divorce or separation. It allows space between parents and lets you move on with the rest of your life. You can focus your energy on taking care of your kids and healing.It also allows parents to engage in a way that is less personal and more professional. By focusing on raising their kids separately, yet cooperatively, both parents can have an easier time after separation.
  • Keeps Family Relationships Strong
    Parents have an equal role in their child’s life without the conflict that comes with interacting. It ensures that your children know that they are the priority in your life, even if you and their other parent cannot get along. This allows each parent to foster a strong relationship with their children.


Q: What Should Be Included in a Parallel Parenting Plan?

A: Because parallel parenting requires little communication between parents, the agreement must be specific. In addition to determining physical and legal custody, a parallel parenting plan should include:

  • The day and time that each parent’s custody time begins and ends
  • Where parents meet to pick up or bring children
  • Transportation responsibilities
  • What to do if a cancellation is needed, and how time is made up

The parenting plan should leave as little room as possible for confusion. A legal professional like a child custody attorney has experience in these areas and can ensure that nothing is overlooked.

Q: How Does Parallel Parenting Work?

A: Parallel parenting is a form of parenting time arrangement where contact between parents is minimized. Each parent spends separate parenting time with their children and focuses on raising and caring for them. It’s a form of parenting generally used when there is very high conflict between parents. Parallel parenting enables both parents to spend quality time with their kids without having to interact extensively with each other.

Q: How Do You Enforce Parallel Parenting?

A: Like any parenting plan, parallel parenting can be enforced if it is entered in court. If the terms of the parenting plan were created as a court order during litigation, it is an enforceable court order. Parents can work together on an agreement, but this agreement must then be submitted to a judge. If the judge believes it to be in the child’s interests, and not unfair to either party, it is entered in court. It then becomes an enforceable order.

Q: What Information Must Be in a Parenting Plan in California?

A: A parenting plan must include information about legal custody and physical custody. Both types of custody may be joint or sole. Additionally, a parenting plan should have information such as:

  • A basic schedule of where a child will be living and when
  • An outline of how holidays, vacations, and events are handled
  • Details for pick-up and drop-off locations
  • How parents will resolve disputes
  • How custody and visitation may be modified in the future
  • Response times needed before one parent can act alone

Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, Today

You may not be sure if parallel parenting is ideal for your family. The experienced attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, have worked for years in family and custody law. Contact our team today and let us help you find the solution that is most beneficial for you and your children.

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