About this time last year, we published an article by our very own Byrd Bonner that talked about how parents can get on the same page regarding their parenting schedules after their divorce. One of the things we talked about was Our Family Wizard, a co-parenting app that helps parents coordinate parenting schedules and shared expenses. While it won’t eliminate all conflicts that a divorced couple might face, an app like Our Family Wizard definitely helps to improve communication and reduce confusion — integral to preventing conflicts.
It turns out there’s a number of apps that are designed to help divorcing and divorced couples through their conflicts in a variety of ways. An article we ran across recently from Kim Komando, who calls herself “America’s Digital Goddess,” highlights some interesting apps and programs we thought were worth sharing.
One, called CoParenter, allows parents to communicate with each other, agree to requests, check in for meetings to exchange the children, with time-stamped documentation for all these items. What caught our eye on this one was the ability to see, at a glance, whether both parents agreed to a request or not. This app uses green-for-yes, no-for-red color coding with each individual request, making it easier to find where you reached resolution or impasse than going through email threads.
We also liked SupportPay, designed specifically to determine how much child support was paid when. It’s possible to get information about child support payments through the Office of the Attorney General’s office, but that can involve actually going into an office to get a full, complete printout. SupportPay allows an online means of tracking payment that both parents can access – they call it an “automated financial mediator,” and while that might exaggerate what it can actually do, it’s a tool that can help parents, particular if a parent makes payments at irregular intervals and/or in varying amounts.
There’s also Talking Parents, which focuses on the communication between parents, allowing for file sharing and unalterable records. They bring up a concern that one parent might delete or edit text records if left to maintain communications on their own devices – and seek to address it by maintaining one single, unalterable record of all communications that both parents share. If couples find it hard to communicate in a civil manner, having this tool could help them be more mindful of what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.
Of course, if parents don’t commit to trying to communicate in a civil, children-first way, technology can only go so far to help them and their ongoing relationship. While technology helps communication, it also can complicate technology, as anyone who has texted or emailed can tell you. It’s not always easy to communicate tone (especially if you’re trying to be funny or use sarcasm), and while emojis help you add facial expressions to content, they don’t work the same way as all your non-verbal cues do when you speak to someone in person.
Regardless of what tools you use for communicating with someone you’re divorcing or divorced, think about how he or she might interpret it, and then think one step further to how that might impact your children. We love that there are more and more tools to choose from, whether they’re one size fits all or tailored for specific aspects of co-parenting, but we still believe that the most important tool in effective communication is the one between your ears.