Parenting can be difficult, period. But co-parenting after or during a divorce is challenging even in the most amicable of divorces. Even if you and your spouse (or soon-to-be ex-spouse) are amicable and have worked out the divorce and fair custody arrangement, you might both still be experiencing major life changes and are working to develop a “new normal” in separate households both for yourself and your children. Alternatively, if your path to resolving custody was not quite as smooth, you may find yourself dreading even the smallest of interactions with your ex. The bottom line is that you still have to deal with each other and it is always in the best interests of the children for divorced parents to maintain positive communication in dealing with issues that involve the children.
Technology can be surprisingly useful in that it actually allows you to co-parent without having to communicate with your ex face to face. From sharing calendars to calculating expenses, there are apps that are designed to help divorced parents lives’ run more smoothly by actually eliminating some of those potentially stressful interactions between you and your ex. Co-parenting apps can be so effective that sometimes judges will order parents to use them in higher conflict custody cases.
Many of the apps provide a similar set of features such as shared calendars, expense logs, message boards, and information trackers. The interactive calendars display custody schedules and allow you to share appointments and activities. The messaging feature allows you to send and receive messages from your ex, the children and third parties (like grandparents, therapists, caregivers). The expense trackers allow you to log the costs of shared expenses such as clothing or sports equipment, as well as calculate each parent’s share of the expense and request reimbursement with the touch of a button. The information trackers allow you to store important information about the children such as doctors’ names, locations, and phone numbers, medical insurance information and allergies. Here are some of the best apps out there right now:
The Best Co-parenting Apps for Improving Communication
Cost: Starting at $99 per parent per year
Features: Our Family Wizard is probably the most widely used and most comprehensive co-parenting app. The app offers all of the popular features listed above like the shared calendar, information tracker, and expense logs. This particular app is often used by judges, and it is a great one to use if you have a lot of conflict with your ex or if you are having trouble with constructive communication. The program protects all messages from being edited or lost and lets you easily find, download, and print messages, which is helpful in cases where custody is especially contentious and communications are often reviewed by third parties. The app even provides a feature that works sort of like a spellchecker and helps you identify negative tones or emotionally-charged messages and giving you the opportunity to review and modify or adjust the tone of the messages before sending.
Cost $9.99 per month or $99 per year, per parent
Features: Similarly, CoParently provides features such as a shared calendar, messaging system, expense log, and information center. The shared calendar can be viewed by day, week, or month has alerts for upcoming events and appointments and has an approval system that immediately notifies both parents and caregivers to any requested changes in the custody schedule which can be accepted or declined. CoParently also allows third parties access to the calendar and messaging service with permission by the parents.
3. 2 Houses
Cost: $9.99 per family per month
Features: 2 Houses is a co-parenting app used internationally and is available in several different languages. It offers all the standard features such as calendar, scheduling, finance tracker, and messaging service. In addition, the app also provides document storage so you can upload and share photo albums and other digital media.