What if Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work?

What is Co-Parenting?  

Co-parenting takes place when parents share responsibilities in caring for and raising their child even though they do not live together. The goal is to provide a stable, supportive parenting relationship that is focused on what is in the child’s best interests. Co-parenting requires open communication, flexibility, and the ability to put aside differences. Unfortunately, this parenting method does not work for everyone and in some situations, forcing a co-parenting relationship may even be detrimental.  


Common Issues That Impact Co-Parenting Success  

In low-conflict situations and when parents have joint physical custody, 50/50 custody, or close to it, co-parenting has been found to be most effective. New relationships, jobs, living arrangements, etc., can make co-parenting challenging and requires a great deal of flexibility. When co-parenting becomes impossible, parents may need to adopt a different method or try new tactics.  


Try Co-Parenting Apps  

Co-parenting apps can help you communicate securely and keep all communications accountable when you share joint custody of your children. The below apps have been found to be effective by some parents to communicate in a healthy manner.  

Apps to check out:  

  • TalkingParents  
  • AppClose  
  • WeParent  
  • OurFamilyWizard  


Parallel Parenting 

In many ways, parallel parenting is quite different from co-parenting, and it might be worth trying if co-parenting isn’t working. In parallel parenting, each parent uses personally preferred parenting methods with the children rather than utilizing a shared approach. The two parents have limited contact with each other and establish household rules separately from one another. This parenting plan requires little to no communication between the parents and allows them both to play active roles in their children’s lives. Parallel parenting means parenting independently, even with shared custody.  



– Can reduce conflict.  

  • Parents have little opportunity to engage in conflict.  
  • Children do not witness conflict between their parents.  

– Can help create consistency for children.  

  • Children learn what to expect from each parent.  
  • There are fewer surprises and fewer upsets in their daily lives.  

– Helps reduce stress for both the parents and the children. 


How the Court Can Help  

The court’s concern is always what is in the best interest of the child. Courts may appoint one or more professionals to help it determine what it believes to be the child’s best interests when creating a parenting plan.  Depending on the case, the court can also modify or restrict access if a parent’s actions are harmful to the child.