Ronald Phillips New York family law expert has nearly 50 years of experience in matrimonial law. He discusses the different types of co-parenting arrangements available to separated or divorced parents with whom the children will be living part of the time.
Mr. Phillips has represented married and unmarried clients in matters involving child and spousal support, custody agreements, visitation rights, equitable distribution of property, and a spouse’s relocation. As a result, he knows how to advise with sensitivity about family law issues even when they are most emotional. In fact, he has been quoted as saying that despite having many years of experience in this area, “These cases are always difficult.”
We asked him about the various co-parenting arrangements that are available to separated or divorced parents. Mr. Phillips responded by saying, “Co-parenting is an arrangement where parents live apart from each other, but they share in their children’s upbringing.”
There are basically four types of co-parenting relationships available to separated or divorced parents, depending on the parents’ degree of contact and cooperation. These are as follows:
- Shared custody: This is an arrangement where both parents share in their children’s major decisions and routine care. There may be a primary residence, but the other spouse has frequent visitation. Child support payments are likely to be ordered by the court. The child’s time with each parent is approximately equal.
- Parallel parenting: Each parent makes the major decisions in this situation, but both parents are equally involved in their children’s day-to-day lives. The court also orders child support. Visitation varies with the age of the child and the distance between homes.
- Sole custody: One parent has physical custody of the children while the other is entitled to visitation or parenting time with their children under specific terms. This type of co-parenting arrangement is ordered by the court when serious marital issues, such as drug use, domestic violence, mental instability, etc., prevent the parents from working together harmoniously to raise their children.
- Co-habitation: In this situation, one parent has primary custody of the children, while both parents live in the same home and share their children’s care. The parent with custody usually makes most decisions regarding their children’s welfare. The other parent has reasonable visitation rights. The court orders child support.
Here are some of Mr. Phillips’s thoughts about how these types of arrangements can work out well for the children involved: “When parents work together in an amicable co-parenting relationship, their children can benefit from both parents’ involvement and commitment to raising them.”
However, he cautions that a good co-parenting relationship will not automatically result when the parents’ divorce. He sees many cases where one or both parties refuse to participate in co-parenting or use their children as weapons against the other parent.
Mr. Phillips warns that when this happens, co-parenting becomes difficult, especially when there are unresolved emotional issues between the parties. “Parents must work together to put aside past differences and join together in making decisions for their children.”
He is quick to point out that this is not always easy to do. “The court may have to get involved and award sole custody of the children to one parent.”