High conflict parents should work toward eliminating as much face-to-face contact as possible. When face-to-face contact has to occur, it is helpful for that contact to take place in a very public place with lots of other people around. This not only provides witnesses in case things get out of hand, it tends to discourage hostile behaviors like shouting or otherwise threatening contact from a high conflict parent. For example, if time sharing exchanges require face-to-face contact between the parents, the exchanges could take place at the child’s daycare or school.
When parents are high conflict, any goals of co-parenting the children must be thoughtfully re-examined. High conflict parents are unable, by definition, to co-parent, but they can learn to successfully parallel parent their children.
Parallel parenting means that each parent will parent the child in their own way during their respective time sharing periods, without involving himself or herself in how the other parent is parenting in a different style.
The high conflict parent(s) releases the struggle to control what the other parent is doing and accepts that their child is entitled to have a conflict-free relationship with both parents, despite their different approaches to parenting. Some high conflict parents are able to move eventually into more of a co-parenting arrangement if successful parallel parenting gradually eliminates the stresses and conflicts that defined their former high conflict parent relationship.
For parallel parenting to have the best chance of success, the actual time sharing order/parenting plan needs to be very specific and detailed. Any ambiguity should be tossed in favor of clear, concise language about time sharing arrangements. High conflict parents should also have no expectation of flexibility from the other parent in accommodating requests for occasional changes to the time sharing schedule. Though sometimes such a request is absolutely necessary for one parent, if the other parent says no, accept it and move on with whatever alternative plans you can make.
If you need help with your high conflict custody case or divorce, contact an experienced family attorney.