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Options exist for parents who cannot get along

Whenever Virginia parents contemplate splitting up, their first concern is typically the details of the child custody and co-parenting arrangement. The type of agreement best suited for a family is largely dependent upon the nature of the parents' dealings with each other. If the parties are able to set aside hostilities and truly focus on the best interests of the children without bringing personal acrimony into parenting decisions, a collaborative agreement is recommended. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people are simply unable to operate with the level of cooperation needed for a collaborative parenting plan to effectively function.

An alternative for couples with substantial levels of hostility tainting their interpersonal relations is a parallel parenting plan. Under this type of agreement, the parties are guided by family law professionals in structuring a plan that accounts for most foreseeable contingencies. The goal is to limit required interaction between the parties by including specific guidance in the written document. The parties them are limited to communicating in a formal and businesslike fashion regarding mostly logistical matters. Email is generally the preferred method of communication, but third parties, texts or direct contact can take place under certain parameters such as medical emergencies.

A key element of parallel parenting is the need for parents to respect each other's space and fully relinquish all designs of control during the other party's time with the children. Although challenging in the short term, it can be liberating for people to let go and stop worrying about matters outside their control. Another important aspect that cannot be understated is the need for well-adjusted children to have stable relations with each parent. When one parent undermines the other's relationship by any means, it is detrimental to the children involved.

Child custody disputes are highly emotional and require a deft hand to craft when parents are committed to fighting. Consulting a qualified family law attorney may be a prudent step to avoid mistakes that can cost parenting time or be contrary to the best interests of a child.

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Bowen Ten Cardani, PC

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Richmond, VA 23233

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