Technology, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, has become essential to our every day lives. It has opened a whole new world of communication that can quickly become difficult to navigate with your ex-partner and co-parent.
Schedules before a divorce can be extremely hectic. Schedules after a divorce can be even more difficult to manage. School, extracurricular activities, medical appointments, and social lives create a full schedule that you will be required to figure out with your co-parent. This creates a challenge for even those parents who have great communication, but it can be done!
Shared calendars are widely used in the workplace and can be extremely beneficial to parents who need to keep track of their child’s busy schedule. Shared calendars can be used as a central hub where all appointments, activities, and obligations are listed. They can indicate what time an activity begins and ends, who is responsible for car rides there and back, and any other details you and your co-parent feel you need to share.
By using a shared calendar such as Google’s calendar app (which is free), 2houses, Moiety or Cozi, you can effectively coordinate with your co-parent. Better communication and information sharing is extremely beneficial to children and can help reduce conflict. Additionally, when your child is old enough, you can allow them access to the calendar. Utilizing good organizational tools now will help the family unit, despite separated parents, run smoothly.
Checklists can be another effective tool to help keep your family organized. Checklists are a quick and easy way to remember what your child will need for a certain day and remind you about items that have a deadline, like turning in a school permission slip. You and your co-parent can look for a shared checklist app that combines all child related obligations in one place. By using a tool like this, conflict can be reduced by ensuring tasks are both completed, but not duplicated.
While one parent typically pays child support, many parents often share the cost of expenses not factored into the child support formula. For any kind of quick transfer, parents can use apps like Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal to share expenses easily and with little contact. These websites and apps are better than transferring cash because they create a record of the money exchanged. There are also more sophisticated apps, such as Settle-up and Splitwise, that allow you to put in the percentage each parent is responsible for under the court order. Then, you simply add up the related expenses, upload receipts, and sort them into categories. The app keeps track of the expenses and then tells you the amount owed and whether it has been paid.
When They’re with your Co-Parent
Video-chatting is a tool that is now regularly used by families to keep in touch. Adjusting to a new parenting schedule can be extremely difficult for a family, especially if one parent has been the primary caregiver. Video-chatting provides an easy outlet to see and talk to your child when they are with the other parent. Likewise, for children who have social media, this can be another useful tool to stay in the loop with your child and check in on them.
However, it is important to remember to use video chatting, and all methods of communication, respectfully so as to not encroach on the other parent’s time. You want to make sure that your child is receiving the most out of their time with your co-parent. A good rule of thumb is that while your child is with your co-parent, engage in communication that would not upset you should your co-parent engage in it when your child is with you. If communication becomes a problem, you can add language to your parenting plan about times and durations of video-chatting and other communication.
It is important to stay up to date on your child’s school and medical records. Record sharing can be an area of conflict between co-parents. For example, if one parent attends a doctor’s appointment and does not share the after-visit summary with the other parent, the parent not in attendance can feel left out. Thanks to the internet, many schools and medical offices use online portals to access records. In New Hampshire, unless there is a court order stating otherwise, both parents have the right to receive school, government, and medical records. It is important to establish a system for getting copies of each record, either through the provider directly or by sharing between parents. By sharing records using a parenting app, it can benefit your children by preventing an imbalance of information, promote better communication, and reduce conflict.
Divorce and custody issues are hard on both parents and the child. They can lead people to act in ways that are hurtful and create long-lasting harm to the relationship. However, there are ways to protect yourself and your child.
Our Family Wizard is a recommended app by courts that allows parents to communicate online. Messages sent are all saved in one place that can be shared with your attorney. Messages are also time stamped, provide notification when the message is read, and cannot be edited or deleted. Using an app like Our Family Wizard can help create accountability in conversations with your co-parent.
Please remember that all social media posts are public. Even after they are deleted, many companies still have access to them on their server. Additionally, social media postings, even when made privately, can be saved and shared. Even when a relationship with your co-parent is difficult, assume that anything you post or share online will be shown to a judge.
Contact Morneau Law
Morneau Law can help you address your co-parenting issues. Morneau Law also offers Collaborative practice, which allows individuals to avoid an adversarial divorce or parenting matter. Morneau Law enters each case with a client-centered approach. If you are dealing with parenting issues, or considering a divorce or separation, contact us today at 603-943-5647or fill out our online form here: https://morneaulaw.com/contact-us/ to discuss your case and options.
Using Technology to Find Answers to Common Child Custody Problems and Keep the Peace while Co-Parenting by Shelley M. Ingram. Family Advocate Vol. 44 No. 1 Summer 2021. American Bar Association.