Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Parallel Parenting Definition:

A form of custody and guardianship order in which such authority transfers from parent to parent as the children are exchanged.

Related Terms: Split Custody, Shared Custody, Bird's Nest Custody, Joint Custody

In Baker-Warren, Justice Forgeron of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court defined parallel parenting as follows:

"Mr. Denault and Ms. Baker-Warren’s interaction is marked by high levels of distrust and disrespect.  Communication is poor.  Therefore, joint custody, in its traditional sense, would not appear to be viable.  Despite this grim finding, sole custody is not the only option.  A parallel parenting order must also be considered.

"Courts have increasingly embraced the concept of parallel parenting in circumstances similar to the case at bar.  A parallel parenting regime is a mechanism which can be employed where there is high parental conflict, and where a sole custody order is not in the child’s best interests.

"A parallel parenting regime permits each parent to be primarily responsible for the care of the child and routine decision-making during the period of time when the child is with him/her.  Significant decision-making can either be allocated between parents, or entrusted to one parent.  Parallel parenting ensures that both parents play an active and fruitful role in the life of their child while removing sources of conflict through a structured and comprehensive parenting plan."

In Ursic, Justice Laskin of the Ontario Court of Appeal held:

"Many trial courts have recognized that joint custody under a parallel parenting regime may be suitable where both parents love the child and should play an active role in the child's life, yet have difficulty communicating or reaching a consensus on the child's upbringing."


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