There's no doubt that technology can play a negative role in marriage and divorce, from the availability of internet porn and websites for married individuals looking to stray to social media like Facebook and Twitter, where individuals can connect with old flames or badmouth an ex for all the world to see.
For good or ill, however, we live in a world in which technology is increasingly important in every sphere. And while technology has certainly made some things more difficult, it also has the capacity to help people work together and stay more connected—and this is true even in the realm of divorce and co-parenting.
In divorce and co-parenting, you may need to have regular communication with someone you'd prefer not to (your ex) while having less time to connect with those you do want to see (your kids). Using technology to co-parent can offer both a buffer for necessary interactions with your ex and a way to see and communicate with your kids when they can't be with you.
After a divorce, or the end of a romantic relationship, what had been your most intimate relationship must now become a highly effective business relationship: co-parenting. Old ways of communicating with your ex may be ineffective, inappropriate, or just plain painful.
Yet good communication is essential to the success of your new joint venture: raising happy, healthy kids together while living apart. Technology to the rescue! There are a number of websites and apps, both established and emerging, that can help you and your ex share information without having to actually talk to or see each other when you don't want to.
You will need to communicate about a variety of issues, not the least of which is what's going on in the kids' lives: who lost a tooth, who had a fight with a best friend, who got the highest grade in the class on an exam. You will also need to communicate about finances, such as when a camp deposit or orthodontist payment is due. Of course, communicating about scheduling issues is critical; many divorced parents have a tale about a child who was stranded after a sports practice because both parents thought it was the other parent's turn to pick up the child.
Even when parents do their best, whether living together or apart, messages often get missed. When raising one child from two homes, miscommunication may be attributed to malice, leading to increasing mistrust and poor co-parenting. How can technology help?
E-mail and texting have been around for a while, of course, but they have their limitations. There's the temptation to become angry and say things you'll regret in an e-mail - keyboard courage. Sometimes the information you exchange gets lost or forgotten altogether in a tangle of e-mail threads. Texts may not go through or may get deleted. (It's wise to take steps to save texts in case you need to produce them in a later dispute with your co-parent) Instead, consider using one of the many apps now available to communicate effectively with your children's other parent.
Our Family Wizard has been around for a while, and has frequently been recommended, and sometimes required, for use by courts. This website and app allows you to communicate online with your ex, share important events, and create an easy-to-use picture of your parenting time schedule. When you add information to the site, it can't be tampered with, meaning that if a dispute arises over, say, whether you shared information about your child's recital, the website can offer proof of what was shared, and when. There is a fee for use of Our Family Wizard, but most parents consider the cost well worth it.
If scheduling issues with your co-parent are your primary concern, Moiety is a free scheduling app that bills itself as "awesome for everyone, essential for co-parents." The website also offers helpful articles and tips on co-parenting as well as the ability to create recurring events on shared calendars. For security, Moiety features a biometric login.
2Houses boasts that it is used by over 112,000 families in over 142 countries. Offering such features as a color-coded calendar, shared photo albums, and shopping lists, the app is easy to use via web platform, iPhone, and Android. 2 Houses is designed for scheduling, storing documents,management of finances, and exchange of information on school, activities, and medical care. It also features a community that allows users to journal and comment on each other's posts.
Cozi, like many of the other apps available, is useful for families that are living apart or together. This free app offers a family calendar, to-do lists, and shopping lists. It also lets you see your agenda for the day at a glance. In addition, families can use Cozi's journal feature to capture special family photos and moments, and share them with co-parents, grandparents, and others.
Cofamilies bills itself as an "online divorce solution that puts co-parenting first." The app, which allows parents to arrange schedules, exchange funds, and make decisions together more easily, also keeps a record of all communications in case they need to be presented in court to resolve a legal dispute.
Kidganizer is an app available in Apple's App Store. It allows parents to enter parenting time schedules and shared custody information, automatically sharing information with joint custodians. Profiles can also be created for grandparents and child care providers, allowing certain information to be shared with them, as well.
Because of the convenience and popularity of co-parenting websites and apps, it's likely that more will continue to pop up. You tend to get more features with the apps you pay for, but most offer a free trial period so you can see how you like them before committing. With any app, what is most important is how it works for your family.
For more on divorce with kids and co-parenting: