The smoke settles following a divorce or custody proceedings, and now everyone (parents and children) must go back to the real world without attorneys and manage communication in separate households. Communication with an ex after a divorce or custody change can be challenging. Emotions are raw from a vicious and expensive court process.
Fortunately, there are apps and tools to help ease parents and children into co-parenting communication. I am focusing on the options used in Northwest Ohio divorce and juvenile courts and some more traditional options for parents who do not want to learn or pay for a new app.
Our Family Wizard
Our Family Wizard is the Court’s favorite parenting communication app because it is user-friendly and offers a lot of additional tools such as video and audio communications and “tone meter” to help keep communications civil and level-headed.
The downside to Our Family Wizard is that it has an annual cost per license ($149.99 per year Essentials and $216.00 per year Premium).
Other helpful features with Our Family Wizard are a shared calendar, messages with first-viewed timestamps, site to make payments for children’s expenses, share videos and photos of children, and GPS-verified Check-ins for parenting time transfers.
Courts love AppClose because it is free! This is an alternative to Our Family Wizard when finances are a concern for the family. AppClose is not as user-friendly as Our Family Wizard and does not offer a “tone meter” option.
However, AppClose does offer a shared calendar, messenger, audio & video calls, and site to make payment requests and transfer payments for children expenses.
The other benefits of using Our Family Wizard and AppClose is that any communication is a stipulated document meaning the Court will accept it as an exhibit without verifying its authenticity.
Finally, a Guardian ad Litem or Parenting Coordinator may be appointed during or after the litigation case. These individuals can have free access to these apps to monitor communication at no cost.
Google Shared Calendar
We are going Old School now with the next two options that I recommend to parties that do not want to pay or learn a communication app. All you need is a smartphone and a Gmail account to set up a shared calendar for children. A shared calendar is essential to schedule appointments, games, recitals, teacher conferences and any other activity involving the children.
A shared calendar also allows both parties to make changes on his or her end to modify parenting time or appointments which automatically modify the other parent’s calendar.
Google Shared Calendar along with text messages and emails can be used to create an excellent communication protocol for any parent.
Text messages and emails are wonderful communication tools because they are in writing and time stamped. You can also be notified when the other person reads the communication.
Google shared calendar, text messaging, and emails are not stipulated documents as communications in Our Family Wizard and AppClose, BUT either parent may testify as to the authenticity of the document so the Court can review its content. This is an extra step, but not complicated.
Co-parenting is difficult and takes time to adjust to a dual routine. However, with these tools and guidance from your attorney at Smith & Smith Law Office, you can succeed and thrive for the sake of your children.