Co-parenting is not possible with an abusive partner who doesn’t seek treatment.
In the realm of intimate partner abuse, getting away from one’s abuser usually doesn’t mean being free of abuse when it involves co-parenting children. All too often, the dominant partner in the relationship feels highly threatened by the other partner separating to divorce. In the aftermath, the abusive partner is often angry, even hostile, and abuse can show up in the context of co-parenting. Although less than ideal, parallel parenting with an abusive ex-partner becomes the better solution.
Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting
In divorce, studies have shown that children benefit from spending at least 35% of their time with each parent despite the difficulty parents have with one another.
The impact of divorce on children’s well-being during and after their parents’ separation or divorce is potentially within parents’ control—the parents’ own well-being and capability to function will have the biggest effect. (Pedro-Carroll, PhD, 2020)
Co-parenting works well when parents who separate and then divorce can actively share parenting, have good communication with one another and work together toward what is in the best interest of their children.
When the abusive partner continues their hostility toward the other parent, the ongoing turmoil erodes quality parenting and contributes to children’s emotional and behavioral problems. (Pedro-Carroll, 2020). In these circumstances, co-parenting is not possible.
Conditions for Parallel Parenting
When one parent has been abusive and controlling during a marriage, it’s very likely that the same harmful behaviors will continue. The following are examples of behaviors that don’t make co-parenting possible and a parallel parenting plan is needed (Post Separation Power and Control Wheel, DV Intervention Programs, 2013):