The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, and families are certainly no exception. In addition to the obvious threat of illness, the pandemic has impacted lives in many ways, from job and income loss to virtual or hybrid schooling. These sudden changes have shattered routines, resulting in adjustments that may be especially challenging for separated parents.
When the going gets tough, it’s good to know that technology can help juggle life’s many demands – especially during the holidays. For many, that comes in the form of co-parenting apps, a great tool for those following a child custody plan and managing co-parenting responsibilities. These software applications have been around for years and are constantly improving to make shared custody easier on parents and kids. Here’s what you should know.
- All communication, schedules, and documents are organized in one place. Co-parenting apps offer a range of secure features so both parents have access to the important information they need. With a shared calendar, parents can quickly reference the custody schedule, upcoming appointments, extracurricular activities, vacations, and more. A centralized database for anything from medical records and school documents to contact information and clothing sizes ensures both parents are prepared and up-to-date at all times.
- Misunderstandings are kept to a minimum. Mix-ups are bound to happen when communication takes place over phone calls, texts, emails, and social media. But when everything is communicated through one app, it prevents missed messages – and provides a time-stamped record for reference. Some apps even have tone meters to help ensure the communication is harmonious.
- The focus stays on the kids and their best interests. By alleviating the stress that comes with shared responsibilities and creating an environment where separated parents can work together, parents are free to spend their time and energy on the kids. Shared custody will always have its challenges, but these apps may decrease friction between co-parents and make it easier to keep the kids out of the middle or serving as a go-between.
- Involve others. If grandparents, stepparents, or others play an active role in raising your children, you have the option to extend account access to them. It takes a village to raise a child, and everyone can benefit from being in the loop on schedules and important information. Even older children can have limited access to a shared calendar so they, too, can make and view updates.
Co-parenting apps differ greatly in features and prices, so be sure to do your research to find the one that works best for your situation. Keep in mind that it may not be necessary to use an app that’s specifically designed for co-parents. Cozi is a free family organizer that might work if you simply need to keep track of activities and appointments. A few of the most popular apps specifically designed for separated parents include OurFamilyWizard, Coparently, and 2Houses. Many offer a free basic version or trial periods so you can test them and select one that’s well suited to your family. But don’t balk at the cost! Especially for co-parents who don’t get along, even the most expensive co-parenting app is less expensive than returning to court.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.