For many families who find themselves in the middle of a custody or parenting time dispute, communicating and co-parenting can be contentious. The sheer battle to keep two sets of families on the same page may seem insurmountable. When Mom and Dad struggle to communicate, the unintended victims of such chaos oftentimes are the children.
Fortunately, there are many new tools that Mom and Dad can implement into their daily lives to provide a unified front for the children, even in the wake of conflict. One such tool is the Our Family Wizard website, which has a compatible app for both Apple and Android devices.
Our Family Wizard serves as an online hub for parents to communicate in a “safe environment” without the need to send text messages. For parents who struggle with hostile texting, this can be a useful tool to promote co-parenting. Furthermore, the message feature on Our Family Wizard allows both parents, their attorneys, parenting time coordinators, and the family’s guardian ad litem to keep track of communication between parties. In addition, Our Family Wizard can even proofread messages between parties and will provide suggestions on adjusting the tone of the communication. (Like a “spell-check” for tone.)
The site also features a calendar that allows each side to track parenting time, holidays, homework, and extracurricular activities. Parents can upload school papers, permission slips, report cards, and the like to keep all parties informed. The “trade” feature allows parents to propose a switch in parenting time to the other parent, while the “journal” tab allows both sides to keep track of notes and interchanges between parents and children.
Lastly, Our Family Wizard provides an expense log, which allows parents to keep track of expenses paid and owed to the other. For example, by court order, Mom may owe Dad $15 for Bobby’s baseball league or other extracurricular activity where she must pay a portion of the expense. Our Family Wizard allows Mom to pay Dad for Bobby’s little league without the need to exchange a check or cash in person. Parents can also keep track of monthly expenses through the “expense register” feature.
While Our Family Wizard is a solid tool for parents and families, there are other free or low-cost options to help Mom and Dad co-parent in the digital age. Simply making a shared Google calendar can help parents keep track of events, appointments, and parenting time. Dropbox is a great way to exchange important school papers and documents regarding the children. Apps such as Venmo and Zelle make it easy to reimburse for expenses without having to shuffle money. Whatever you use, be sure to track the exchanges.
With the use of a computer screen and a little creativity, parents can avoid conflict and promote continuity, even in the midst of a custody dispute. Are you involved in a custody or parenting time dispute? The Family Law Team at Norris Choplin Schroeder LLP can help you in the process.