When couples consider divorce, one question that tends to pop up is, "Would a divorce be in the best interest of our children?" Often, the answer is yes, especially compared with the alternative of children seeing their parents fight.
A similar question arises during custody and visitation discussions. What is in the best interest of your children, then?
In quite a few circumstances, co-parenting most benefits your children. In ideal cases, both parents get a good balance of quality and quantity of time with their children. Sometimes this can take some creativity, especially if one parent lives far away. Phone calls, video chats, and extended visits can help in these situations.
Good co-parenting relationships consist of trust and a relatively solid schedule that limits the need to make decisions on the fly. At the same time, both parents should be able to remain flexible because life is not always predictable. The parents may not agree on every issue concerning their children, but they respect each other's opinions and are willing to have a serious discussion.
In situations with overwhelming tension and issues the couple cannot surmount, parallel parenting is an alternative to a typical co-parenting arrangement. In parallel parenting, the parents try to reduce the conflict in their children's lives by recognizing that they cannot get along. For example, they may rely on a third party to do pickups and drop-offs, decide who attends what sporting event in advance, and so on. They try not to speak badly about the other parent in front of their children.
Of course, in situations that involve domestic violence, abuse, or other harmful behaviors, it may be in the children's best interest to see one parent only rarely or not at all. In these cases, a parent may want to pursue sole custody of the children.