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How to parent in high-conflict situations after divorce

In general, divorced parents in Connecticut can choose between two child-raising structures -- parallel parenting and co-parenting. The former is the better option for parents in a high-conflict divorce. Research indicates that it is the conflict and not the divorce itself that is most difficult for children to deal with. The aim of parallel parenting is to reduce that conflict even when the parents do not get along. Parallel parents generally agree on major issues, such as religion and education, but they might have little direct communication.

On the other hand, communication is key for co-parents. To achieve this, they will need a detailed, highly structured schedule. Co-parents may also want to agree on alternate ways to share necessary information. This could involve sharing calendars or using email to exchange information.

Co-parents work together in an atmosphere of respect, so they should also respect each parent's relationship with the child. Parallel parents have to abandon any ideas of trying to control the other parent. However, they might eventually find that they are able to work together more as the resentment from the marriage and divorce fades. Even if this is never possible, parallel parenting can still be a way for parents to share custody with little conflict.

In some divorces, even if there is a lot of conflict, parents might be able to reach an agreement on custody and visitation through mediation. Instead of the adversarial atmosphere of a courtroom, mediation is focused on conflict resolution. Parents who cannot agree will have to go to court, where a judge will decide who will get custody and make a plan for when the child will spend time with both parents.

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Law Office of Robert A. Skovgaard
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