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Types of Co-Parenting

Dad with young daughter on his lap

Splitting up from a partner is a difficult decision, but for those who have children together, another complicated matter must be accounted for ― how to co-parent.

Not all parents choose to co-parent, but a majority do. Giving up parental rights is a significant decision that should not be taken lightly but is possible for those who no longer want to have a relationship with their child. Those who choose this option must consult a family law attorney to give up this right legally.

For parents who wish to co-parent, there are three styles most decide between ― parallel, conflicted, and cooperative.

Parallel Co-Parenting

Parallel co-parenting is a parenting approach where each parent has their own parenting style when they are with their children. This can be effective if the parents trust each other but do not want to interact with each other. When done correctly, parallel parenting can help reduce conflict between parents and help children feel more secure.

Conflicted Co-Parenting

Conflicted co-parenting is when parents have difficulty getting along or discussing parenting approaches with their ex. This is usually ineffective and can increase insecurity in children. This is not a recommended parenting style but does occur when exes can not agree on how to parent their children.

Cooperative Co-Parenting

Cooperative co-parenting is similar to parallel co-parenting in that there is not a lot of conflict between the exes. However, this style differs from parallel because the parents agree on having similar parenting styles and how to parent their children best.

Co-Parenting Strategies

No matter which co-parenting style you choose (or are forced to participate in if your ex is being uncooperative), all co-parents should keep the following strategies in mind for the best interest of their children.


This can be difficult for a co-parent who refuses to discuss any potential problems. However, it’s in the children's best interest to ensure everyone is on the same page. This means agreeing on key issues such as discipline, bedtimes, and extracurricular activities. If one parent isn’t sure about something, they should ask their co-parent before making any decisions.

Additionally, a tool for success is agreeing on the same way to communicate with one another. This could be using a shared online calendar, a joint email account, or an app that allows parents to share information.


Everyone should be respectful of each other, but for co-parents, this is especially true. It's important to remember that just because one parent does not do things the way the other does, neither is necessarily wrong. Each parent has their own parenting style and what works for one family might not work for another. It's okay for parents to disagree with each other, but they should try to respect each other's parenting choices.

Along the same lines of respect, parents should not speak negatively about their co-parent in front of their children. It's normal to feel frustrated with the other parent sometimes, but it's important to avoid speaking badly about them around shared children. This can confuse and upset children who feel they have to choose sides. If a parent is feeling frustrated about their ex, they should speak out when their children are not around.

Seek Help

Parenting, in general, is difficult. Parents who feel like they are struggling, overwhelmed, or not doing a good job should seek help from a professional, such as a therapist or counselor. This is not a sign of weakness but rather a strength as the struggling parent is willing to be vulnerable about their feelings and goals to improve the situation.

Have Questions About Co-Parenting?

Co-parenting takes a lot of work and isn’t always perfected on the first try. If you want to change your current co-parenting arrangement or have questions about child custody arrangements, the team at Peterson White, LLP is here to help. Our compassionate family law attorneys have assisted countless co-parents with their child custody arrangements and we want to help your family too.

Get started by setting up a consultation online or by phone. (855) 919-4124