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Parental communication is one of the most pressing issues many family law attorneys encounter in child custody cases. It is understandable that individuals going through a break-up would have a difficult time communicating effectively and civilly. Luckily, with recent increases in technology, there are apps available to encourage and teach parents how to communicate with each other. The following is an overview of some of these available apps.
• OurFamilyWizard: This app is widely used by family law practitioners and, in some cases, is accessible by the court, which can encourage civility. The app contains an interactive calendar wherein a parent can alert the other parent to things like holidays, sports practices, concerts, etc. The app allow has an expense log, which can be helpful to parents who share medical expenses for the children per the “30/30 Rule.” Parents have the ability to make payments directly through the app as well, and the app can store medical history, insurance information, emergency contacts, and school schedules. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the app is the “ToneMeter” included in the message board. The “ToneMeter” feature will flag certain language, such as curse words, in a parent’s message before the parent sends that message to the other parent. OurFamilyWizard is not free, however, and costs $99.00-$109.00 per year, per parent.
• TalkingParents: Likely the second most popular app for parental communication, TalkingParents records messages between parties with a time-stamp as to both when the message is sent, as well as when the message is read. TalkingParents also offers a journal for notes that do not get shared with the other parent. Parents cannot change, edit, or delete messages, and copies of messages can be printed for the Court. The basic TalkingParents app is free, but there is a premium version available for $4.99 per month.
• AppClose is another app gaining in popularity with Judges. It is a free service that features a messaging option, a calendar, requests for reimbursement, the facilitation of payments, and a “circle” that can include other individuals, like step-parents. AppClose also offers a solo option that allows a parent to send requests or events to another parent even if that parent does not have the app.
• coParenter: This app was developed by a retired Judge. It allows a parent to send secure, non-trackable notifications to the other parent when picking up or dropping off children. It also offers filters for messages to flag offensive language, and parents can make requests, for example, to swap vacation days, within the app. The app also offers a “SoloMode” option that a parent can use to send messages from a different SMS number than the parent’s cell phone number, even if the other parent will not agree to sign up for the app. coParenter charges $12.99 per month for the service.
• SupportPay: The purpose of this app is for managing, tracking, and paying child support and alimony. It allows the receiving party to provide receipts for how the child support is being spent, and gives reminders and notifications. The app is free if there are up to two expenses per month uploaded, otherwise there is a cost, with a discount if paid yearly.
• Mend: Mend is a bit different than the other apps mentioned. The founder of Mend calls it a “personal coach for the brokenhearted.” Upon signing up, a user gives a reason for the break-up with their spouse or co-parent, and indicates their last contact. The app then offers training sessions and classes based on an individual’s situation. One training session is free, then the app is $19.99 per month.
• Cozi: This app can sync calendars with Outlook, Google, and Apple, and allows users to update things like to-do lists, grocery lists, and meal planners. The app works with Alexa and also allows children to upload photos. For an extra charge, the app will also include contacts and birthday functions.
• WeParent: This app helps parents manage a custodial schedule, events, document sharing, and expenses. Its founder has a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford and it is based on psychological research.
• 2houses: This app offers a customizable custody calendar. A parent can use the app to request a schedule change, which then gets reviewed and approved by the other parent, and can simultaneously offer an alternate day or time. The app also allows a parent to manage shared expenses, and gives the option to send photographs of potential purchases with its “Wishlist” feature. The account can also be linked with more than one other person’s account, which can be helpful if the parties wish to include step-parents or grandparents. The app costs $13.00 per month.
• Cluster: Cluster allows parents to share photographs without posting them publicly, which can be a good option for parents who do not want to share photographs of shared children through text message or social media.
Whatever method is used for communication, it is important that it remain consistent and civil. Divorce or separation from a long-term partner is difficult for any individual, but for parents it is important to remember that children are also involved, and they will pick up on conflict even when parents try to hide it. Parents need to remember that their parenting style will likely be different than the other parent’s. It is most often not in a child’s best interest to constantly attempt to “correct” the other parent’s style of parenting.
The focus in co-parenting should always be on the child. A parent should not attempt to take shots at the other parent under the guise of co-parenting, use communications regarding the child to try to get evidence about the other parent’s lifestyle, or simply try “get back” at the other parent for perceived wrongdoing during the relationship. Though these tips appear obvious, they are things family law attorneys see over and over again.
Effective, civil, and collaborative co-parenting will save both parents and children time, money, and stress in the long run. If, however, your co-parent will not communicate civilly or effectively, despite your best efforts, an experienced family law attorney can help.

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