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Co-Parenting Apps and Online Resources

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One of the most common challenges that we see divorced or separates parents face is the difficulty of communicating and coordinating with one another. In addition to the typical concerns about budgeting, keeping track of appointments (medical, school, extracurricular), and finances, divorced parents must also stay on the same page when it comes to keeping track of who is supposed to have the child at a given time, making parenting time trades, making sure that emails aren’t overlooked or ignored, avoiding having to use children as a go-between, and more.

Thankfully, website and application developers have started to recognize the potential for using technology to make communication and collaboration between divorced or separated parents easier and less stressful. Below are a few co-parenting sites and/or apps created to ease the tension between you and your former partner, so that you can spend more time focusing on the needs of your child.

OurFamilyWizard

OurFamilyWizard has been around for about 15 years, and is probably the oldest and most established online co-parenting resource.

Features:

  • A shared calendar that can be updated with parenting schedules and upcoming appointments. The calendar also features the built-in ability to submit requests for parenting schedule trades or forfeitures. Additionally, the calendar can be exported to PDF for easy printing, allowing parents to easily retain hard copies.
  • A secure email system that allows parents to communicate without having to share phone numbers or email addresses. The system does not allow either parent to edit or delete emails after they have been sent, allowing both parents to retain an accurate record of their communications.
  • An info bank that allows you to keep track of a vast variety of information about your children, including medical information, social security numbers, clothing sizes, and more. In addition, files can easily be shared between parents, and stored on the site for easy access.
  • An expense log for tracking child support, medical expenses, food bills, and other miscellaneous expenses. The log can automatically calculate each parent’s share of split expenses, allow parents to submit requests for reimbursement, export reports, and notify parents when new expenses have been entered.
  • A journal for tracking day to day events. When a journal entry is created, the user can specify who will be able to access the entry, allowing for both private and family-wide records of family activities.

Cost: $99 per parent per year ($8.25 per month). This means that for two parents, the total cost would be $198 per year, or $16.50 per month.

Platforms:

2houses

2houses is a website that was originally developed in 2011 to help separated parents effectively “communicate and organize the care and well-being” of their children.

Features:

  • A family calendar on which parents can add color-coded events to allow for easy interpretation. Parents can easily update the calendar by syncing it with other calendar apps, such as Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal. The family calendar also features a shared custody wizard that allows parents to easily update the calendar with their custody arrangements that are based on even complex patterns, avoiding the need to laboriously input custody schedules one day at a time. Parents can also submit requests for schedule changes.
  • A financial management system which organizes expenses by category, maintains a record of payment balances, and allows parents to submit requests for reimbursement for miscellaneous expenses. Expense reports can be exported as CSV or PDF files for easy record-keeping.
  • A journal in which parents can share life events, information, photos, videos, and more. The journal essentially functions as a private social network (like Facebook). Parents can comment on and discuss journal entries. Tags can be added to entries for easy organization and filtering.
  • A photo album for archiving family photos. The complete photo album can be downloaded as a zip file, allowing for easy photo backup on other digital platforms.
  • An information bank for storing a wide range of information, such as social security numbers, medical history, clothing sizes, and contact info for your children’s friends, doctors, teachers, and more. Relevant documents can also be stored within the info bank.
  • A task list that can be shared with all family members (including the kids) and third-parties, such as babysitters and other caretakers. Due dates can be assigned to tasks, and those assigned with the tasks can keep parents appraised of their progress.
  • Multiple grocery lists for keeping track of the family’s shopping. Multiple lists can be maintained simultaneously, allowing parents to separately keep track of groceries, medical needs, toys, school and sports supplies, and more.
  • A messaging system that allows parents to stay in communication with one another in a secure environment.
  • The 2houses system is meant to be as flexible as possible. Parents with admin rights can allow family members, children, and other people varying amounts of access to the information within the 2houses system, and can even grant a family mediator read-only access.

Cost: $120 per year ($10 per month) for a single family, regardless of the number of family members.

Platforms:

Cofamilies

Cofamilies is a simple scheduling website and application that makes it easier for separated parents to keep track of their kids’ schedules.

Features:

  • The calendar uses color coding to make it easy to tell what days children are staying overnight with which parents.
  • Parents can check-in when they have dropped off a child or are on the way, allowing both parents and children to know that everything is going according to plan.
  • One-time and recurring appointments, such as doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, and plans with friends, can be easily added to the calendar
  • The mobile app allows parents to message one another privately, without having to share email or phone information. This conversation is secure, making it easy to keep a record in case of any future disputes.

Cost: Free

Platforms:

TalkingParents.com

TalkingParents.com was designed as a secure communication system for divorced and separated parents.

Features:

  • Features a secure messaging system in which conversations cannot be edited or deleted, allowing for both parents to maintain a verified record of past conversations. Up to five files can be uploaded and attached to messages as well. The system tracks when messages are sent, when parents sign in and out of the system, and when parents view each message for the first time.
  • The conversation export system allows parents to export a complete transcript of past communications to a PDF file (costs $3.99).

Cost: Standard accounts are free. Premium access costs $4.99 per month, unlocking unlimited PDF conversation exports, no ads on the site, and access to the forthcoming mobile apps.

Platforms:

  • Website
  • Apple iTunes (forthcoming, 2016)
  • Android Google Play (forthcoming, 2016)

As you can see, these sites offer a lot of choices and features, but may not be right for everyone.

For some people who aren’t tech-savvy, a better choice might be an easier to use option, such as Google calendar. In addition, parents can share a Google Drive account as well to exchange pictures and school assignments. These lower-tech options are free, which can be a great advantage for parents trying to keep expenses down.

No matter what option you choose, always keep an open mind about finding new ways to communicate with the other parent.