By Jill Brittle
After divorce or separation, clients often ask for tools or tips to help facilitate co-parenting. Parents are in the position of establishing new methods of communication and juggling the children’s schedules between two homes. There are a multitude of resources that allow for a more accessible and cooperative approach to co-parenting.
Brittle & Brittle PC does not endorse these products, but we have received positive feedback from clients and colleagues for each of these tools.
(1) Use a full-service tool for parents in separate households
One full-service tool is Our Family Wizard, a web-based program that is available on smart phones and tablet as well. This program provides a full-service approach to coparenting. It’s shared features include a family calendar; a family journal; a mechanism for exchanging financial documents, such as receipts for uninsured medical costs; and more. It offers options that allow parents to communicate directly with lawyers or other professionals. It even has a log-in for children who want to access the family calendar or journal, which may be particularly helpful for older children. Our Family Wizard is geared to divorced parents, and has a range of subscription rates ($99-210/parent as of October 2016).
A second option is the Cozi Family Organizer. This service includes the ability to share calendars, to-do lists, shopping lists, recipes and meal planning, and more. It includes a family journal which keeps track of vacations, milestones, photos, and other memorable events. The function for saving recipes and meal planning can assist parents of picky eaters, via an easy exchange of ideas for the other parent. The to-do list also includes the ability to print chore lists for kids, so parents can have consistent expectations for the children in both households. There is both a free version (with ads) and a subscription version (ad-free), with annual costs around $20.
Another tool that has recently been brought to the attention of our firm is called Custody X Change, which bills itself as “a powerful tool that helps divorced, separated, or single parents create and track professional-quality parenting plans.” It allows users to generate a parenting plan using the software’s library of “provisions and stipulations,” which can be added as appropriate to your unique situation. This product has granular pricing plans (ranging from $67-$376 as of November 2016), depending on the particular tools you wish to use, and whether you prefer a payment plan. Additionally, Custody X Change offers various plan options for professionals in the field.
(2) Use a communication tracker
A less expansive tool – and a free one at that – is Talking Parents. This can be accessed online or on an app as well. The purpose of this tool is to combine all sources of contact between parents (text, email, etc), and to maintain a complete record of those communications. In the event of future litigation, either party can obtain a complete record of those communications for a fee.
(3) Use a shared calendar
Shared calendars are available through a number of services. One of the more popular options is the Google calendar. Parents can adjust settings on the calendar to share access with one another, allowing for shared scheduling of the children’s activities, events, health appointments, vacations, and tracking of overnights. The calendar is available online and on smart phones or tablets as well, and are generally free.
(4) Use a shared wish list
One excellent co-parenting suggestion is to use joint “wish lists” at your favorite online retailers. For example, both Amazon and Toys R Us allow you to maintain and share “wish lists” for your children. This allows parents to coordinate for events like birthdays and special holidays, and to keep track of requests made by children.
There are many other similar tools available to parents who want to find easy, accessible, and cooperative ways to communicate about their children.
If you are struggling with a former partner who is not co-parenting well, meet with one of our Oregon Divorce lawyers who can make recommendations on options you may have – both in and out of court. We recognize that Divorce can be confusing. It is not something that you need to do alone - let us help. Contact us to schedule a discounted consultation with an experienced Oregon Divorce Lawyer and discuss the best legal approach for your case.
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