People in California who are getting a divorce might be unable to co-parent effectively because they cannot get along well enough for that. However, they can still practice parallel parenting. This is when both individuals still manage to spend time with their children without being involved with one another as parents. People who successfully practice parallel parenting generally do agree in general on large issues, such as a child's religion and education.
Individuals who co-parent should set aside their conflict and focus on their children's best interests. Since those who practice parallel parenting are trying to prevent conflict by avoiding one another, they should have firm agreements in place about how they will structure the visitation and custody schedules and communicate without having to talk to one another. It can help if parallel parents keep the communication businesslike. They might want to use calendars or exchange information over email. Parallel parents also have to let go of the desire to control one another.
With co-parenting, individuals respect one another and their relationship with their children. They may communicate frequently. Over time, a parallel relationship could become more like co-parenting as children get older and want a more flexible schedule and time apart allows the parents to set their conflicts aside.
Whatever approach people take with co-parenting, they will need to agree on a schedule for visitation and child custody. If they cannot reach an agreement, they will have to go to court, and a judge will decide. Some individuals prefer a more informal agreement, but they should still make it legally binding. This protects people if one person stops observing the terms of the agreement. There may also be a child support agreement in place. Usually, though not always, it is the noncustodial parent who pays the custodial parent.