Co-parenting has come a long way thanks to new information, resources, and technologies. With helpful smartphones and apps, parents can now streamline their calendars, schedules, and communication methods. When these tools are used, co-parenting can become a much more seamless process. Let’s discuss some of the most popular tips and tools that parents are loving.
Co-parenting Tools and Tips
Co-parenting isn’t an easy task. There’s no way around that fact. However, with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds.
Tip 1: Make the well-being of your child the number one priority.
Being successful in co-parenting means setting aside any resentment and grievances you may have towards your ex. The well-being of your child should be the number one priority. Try to separate your feelings of anger and hurt from your communications and behaviors. Engage in co-parenting in a business-like manner and keep your child out of the middle. Hash out your disagreements with the other parent in a respectful manner and as much as possible, present the child with the decision reached by you and the other parent. Keep your child out of the middle of your fights. There are now parenting apps available that can help you check the “tone” of your written communications to make sure you are communicating in a productive manner when having a disagreement.
Tip 2: Make Parenting Time Exchanges as Simple as Possible.
Often the parenting time exchanges can be one of the most stressful times for a child when their parents don’t get along. A parent being chronically late (or early), bringing along others that have hostilities with the other parent, or pressuring the child to feel bad about going to or leaving a parent can put a lot of extra stress on the parents, and even more on the child. Make your parenting time exchanges as simple as possible. For most parents, a drop-up and pick-up through school or child care takes a direct interaction with the other parent entirely out of the equation and is often one of the best ways to avoid frequent conflicts between parents that don’t get along.
For parenting time exchanges that can’t be through school or child care, think of practical solutions. If the other parent is never on time, it may be best to pick up the child from their home at the start of your time and have the other parent pick up the child from your home at the end of your time. You will spend less time waiting on the other parent and you’ll get extra time with your child every time the other parent is running late for pick up. With devices such as smartwatches becoming more affordable and common for even younger children, a parent can communicate with a child at school to let them know there has been a change of plans and other parent has agreed to pick them up from school that day.
Tip 3: Improve Communication Using Technology.
There are now many parenting apps that can improve communications between parents. They often include a text-like feature that stores your communications by topic and often includes a shared calendar. It is becoming common for the parents to agree to use a Parenting App and not uncommon for judges to order the parents in a hotly contested custody case to use a Parenting App. Some of the more common ones the Judges in the Omaha area have ordered are below.
With a way to store messages, a shared calendar, and no charge for the non-mobile version, this is a popular app for judges to a court order. For a charge, certified copies of the messages can be ordered so there can be no dispute as to when and what messages were sent between the parents. For a charge of around $6.00 per month per parent, the parents can access the app on their smartphone and use the app as a more secure form than regular text messaging.
Our Family Wizard
This is another popular app sometimes ordered by the Court. OurFamilyWizard was created by a divorced couple themselves, so you know it has the features you need. Each parent has their own account plus can add as many people as you’d like. The child can also have an account for access to the shared calendar and certain other features. It has an “emotional spell checker” for an extra $10 a year that will help pick up on negative tones. The app also includes the ability to download messages in a reliable method for court submission. The cost is higher than some of the other apps but has more features than many of the cheaper options. It’s $99 per year for each parent, but there is a fee waiver application for low-income parents.
Other Apps and Technology
There are many other co-parenting apps available. If you find one that you like, don’t be afraid to request to use that app and explain why you think its features and cost are right for your situation. For some parents who don’t use an app, technology has assisted them in their communication in other ways. It isn’t uncommon for a parenting plan to state that the preferred method of communication between the parents is through text message or for the parents to use a shared Google Calendar or Google Sheets to keep track of the child’s activities and shared expenses.
Tip 4: Have a solid parenting plan.
You don’t need a parenting plan for when you are getting along. You need the parenting plan for when you can’t agree on an exchange time or a holiday. Have an attorney or experienced mediator assist you in creating your parenting plan and help you make decisions to address common pitfalls before they become a heated discussion between the parents. Keep a copy of your parenting plan in your e-mail so you have easy access to review the terms of your parenting plan for guidance whenever there is a dispute.
Tip 5: Avoid Technology Pitfalls.
Facebook and other forms of social media have their uses. Sharing your co-parenting difficulties shouldn’t be one of them. Keep any gripes you may have about the court system, parenting, or the other parent off social media.
Also, be wary of parenting and co-parenting advice given by others. What works for one family may not work for yours. The internet is a great resource for tips and tricks but looks for reputable resources. Looking for trusted parenting material online? Try the Free Parenting Tools available on Boys Town’s website. Boys Town also has a free 24/7 Crisis Hotline for families.
Co-parenting doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds, especially with these tools and tips in your toolbox. Whether you want to have more calm and clear communication with your ex or you want a more streamlined scheduling process, these tips and apps should get you well on your way there.
Additional Reading: Co-Parenting and Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents
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