TOOLS TO HELP WITH DIFFICULT CO-PARENTING RELATIONSHIPS
Appropriate communication with your co-parent is imperative to avoiding conflict. However, this is an area where people tend to struggle the most. While technology can complicate family law cases, there are a number of tools through the internet that have assisted many co-parents in overcoming communication difficulties and ultimately do a better job of parenting their child together.
While many parents agree to use one of these tools to communicate, if you are really struggling with co-parenting together, and it comes to the court’s attention that communication is a crucial part of your co-parenting relationship, a judge may order that you use one of these online methods of communicating with one another. The most volatile communication between co-parents tend to happen during phone conversations. The tools that Colorado Domestic Relations Courts turn to in order to assist parents with high-conflict communication are tools that regulate the written communications between parents.
To determine whether one of these tools may assist your family in better communicating concerning your children, please contact your family law attorney today.
Our Family Wizard is an online co-parenting tool, which is available to parents for a minimal yearly fee. There is both a desk-top and a phone app available through Our Family Wizard, making it incredibly user-friendly.
The first feature is the shared family calendar, where both parents can add events involving the children and clearly request modifications to the parenting time schedule. All events are clearly archived, in case there is a dispute at a later date about additions and modifications to the calendar. For older children, a “kids account” can be created, so that the children can easily view their schedules and not be caught off guard about where they are supposed to be each day.
Next, the most utilized feature on Our Family Wizard, the “messaging” feature, keeps a clear record of all communications between parents. Courts frequently order that parents in high conflict cases exclusively communicate over an online program, such as Our Family Wizard, to try and minimize adversarial or inappropriate communication.
The program makes it impossible to edit the messages after they are sent thus, the messages are typically admissible as evidence in Court. There are a number of features that allow these messages to comply with the Colorado Rules of Evidence, without creating additional work for your attorney. The messaging feature also has a helpful “tone meter” that flags inappropriate messages that a parent has drafted, before it is sent to the other parent, which can help reduce conflict.
Additionally, Our Family Wizard has an “information bank” where family information, such as contact details, school schedules, and medical information can be easily kept and accessed, an expense log for reimbursement purposes, and a parenting journal, where parents can choose to record their thoughts concerning the co-parenting relationship and other parenting matters. The journal can either be shared or kept to oneself.
Talking Parents is a more simplified online communication tool that primarily focuses on the messages sent between parents. The only time Talking Parents costs money is when a parent wants to download their messages, either for personal use or for litigation purposes. Just like Our Family Wizard, messages in Talking Parents cannot be edited and are typically admissible as evidence in court. For specific evidentiary questions, you should consult your family law attorney.
Civil Communicator is a newer online tool that does not allow parents to send a message to the other parent, without the review of a human being who has been specially trained to regulate high-conflict communications. While it may sound invasive, this online tool can be helpful in very high conflict cases where the parents have had extensive and prolonged difficulty with communication.
Civil Communicator is available for a monthly or annual fee. Civil Communicator’s moto is “We Encourage Just the Facts and Take the Emotion Out of the Conversation,” and the program accomplishes this by having a Review Specialists edit messages drafted by each parent, as necessary to ensure that there is no abusive, passive aggressive, or unproductive content in the communications between parents.
This allows parents to actually co-parent, rather than use communication as a way to retaliate against or humiliate the other parent. Additionally, the Review Specialist provides feedback regarding the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of the message to the drafter, prior to sending it to the other parent.
Like Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard, Civil Communicator also has a shared calendaring feature, a documents shared library where parents, their attorneys, and other experts involved in their family law case can share documents, a “parenting proposal” feature that allows parents to attempt to come to solutions without utilizing their attorneys or PCDM’s, and a live chat feature.
To determine which of these tools may work best for your family (as well as your budget), be sure to consult with an experienced family law attorney. These tools have the power to help change unhealthy communication habits that have existed between co-parents for years. Additionally, if inappropriate communications continue, despite the use of one of these tools, should a dispute arise in your case, the documented communications, calendars, or other shared and stored documents may prove to be invaluable in litigation.
If you have a difficult co-parenting relationship, or if you fear that you might in the future, our compassionate and experienced Denver family law attorneys can help you assess how to move forward. Our legal team understands the social, financial, and legal challenges you may face and can help you to prepare for what lies ahead.
Request your initial case evaluation and speak to our attorney about your family’s goals.