Where would we be without technology? Without technology, we would not have access to e-mail 24/7; we would not have food delivery at our finger-tips; we would have to actually watch TV commercials; and we would not be able to know everything about a friend who we have not seen in decades! Every day we use technologies to make our life better and easier, and we are constantly learning about new technologies.
While some individuals are able to make a clean break from his or her former spouse, for parties with children there is never a real separation. You cannot “de-friend” your former spouse on Facebook and never see them again if you have children together. Parents with minor children have to remain in contact with one another, which is difficult for some parents.
How does one stay in contact with his or her former spouse, but still maintain a healthy boundary? How does one keep everything organized? How does one seek reimbursement for medical expenses for the children? The answer is technology! There are many different applications that co-parents can use to help with communication. The right one depends on the specific needs of the particular family. We, as practitioners, can help our clients by finding the right application for his or her family.
Our Family Wizard
The most popular application seems to be Our Family Wizard. On that application, parents are able to use a joint calendar, a message board, an expense log, a journal, etc. The cost is $99.00 for one year, or $179.00 for two years.
Another application is Parently; it has similar features – a calendar, message board, and the ability to be on a mobile device. That application also allows for shared contacts, which could prove helpful, especially if one parent is “in the know” more than the other. It would allow for parents to share contact information for babysitters, as well as other families for playdates. On this site, a family could pay $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year.
There are other sites too – 2Houses, Talking Parents, Cozi, etc.
Regardless of which one your client chooses, all the applications have the benefit of keeping divorced families organized. Parents have all the information needed to co-parent effectively in one place. By using one of these applications, parents do not have to keep a separate e-mail chain, an expense spreadsheet, etc. There is less likelihood that something will “fall through the cracks”, so to speak. Each parent knows the date and time for the next baseball game. Each parent knows the date of the next well-check at the pediatrician’s office. Further, parents can grant access to neutrals, such as guardian ad litem or a co-parent counselor, instead of having to remember to forward and/or print the e-mails. Further, if high conflict parents communicate through those sites, each may be motivated to keep the tone of the e-mails civil, knowing there may be a third party reading them. There are so many benefits for divorced parents on these applications. We should encourage our clients to use them.
Parties have also started using applications to transfer funds, i.e., Venmo, Zelle, etc. The cash applications allow for the transfer of money, for free, from one parent to another. The applications also help maintain a record, as with each transfer, one has to add a reference note, so that you are able to review to ensure that all payments are made. Some applications, like Venmo, hold the money in the person’s specific account until that person transfers the money to his or her bank account. Other applications, like Zelle, allow for the transfer to be immediately deposited into that person’s account. Either way, the applications help parties stay organized – the payor is able to show that the money was sent to the other parent and the receiving party has the same record. It eliminates future arguments about whether or not money was sent.
Technology is there for a reason – to use! Let’s help our clients find the best resources!