In an age of instant communication and digital connectivity, co-parenting relationships are evolving with the rise of co-parenting apps. These apps aim to streamline communication and coordination for separated parents, shaping the dynamics of post-separation parenting.
The rise in popularity of these apps is perhaps unsurprising. At a time where we are tethered to our devices, expecting almost instant replies, being able to move discussions with ex-partners onto a different application is an attractive proposition. It adds a layer of separation welcomed by many, particularly in cases where emotions are running high.
Add to this the recent ability to delete and edit messages over WhatsApp, many apps offer a secure way of messaging which cannot be altered or deleted.
What is a Co-Parenting App?
Put simply, a Co-Parenting App is a digital platform used by parents (or caregivers) to organise their parenting responsibilities (including contact, finances, key dates and documents) and keep a secure record of communication.
There is an increasing range of options available, from free applications to paid, subscription-based ones with varying features. At the heart of them all is the aim of making life easier for co-parents.
Benefits of a Co-Parenting App
In the right circumstances, these apps can bring a whole host of benefits to separated parents.
1. Centralised Communication
A relationship breakdown often comes hand in hand with a breakdown in communication. In some respects, the need to go into a separate app which keeps an accurate log of the communications taking place, results in parties having to take a second to consider the message they are about to send.
Having all the communication taking place over one platform, where messages cannot be deleted or altered, and are often time-stamped (including notification of when the messages have been opened), reduces the risk of misunderstandings and helps facilitate a smooth dialogue between the parents.
With the power of AI, one of the increasingly popular co-parenting apps, OurFamilyWizard, even includes the optional add-on of a ToneMeter which ‘helps parents anticipate how the tone of their message could be received by flagging statements that may be perceived as emotionally charged. This gives them the opportunity to modify the message before pressing send’.
2. Shared Calendar
Most apps include a shared calendar feature, allowing parents to coordinate child arrangements, school events, key dates (i.e. medical appointments) and extra-curricular activities seamlessly. Some include the option of requesting changes via the app. This reduces the need for constant communication between the parents and lessens the risk of key dates being missed due to a misunderstanding or miscommunication. This, in turn, assists in helping children feel more secure by reducing the risk of missed commitments.
3. Expense Tracking
Financial transparency assists the co-parenting relationship. Many apps offer an expense tracking feature (including in some the option to upload receipts) simplifying the process of managing and documenting shared expenses for the well-being of the child. Expense tracking generally encourages both fairness and accountability assisting the parties in navigating life post-separation.
4. Secure Documentation
Some apps also offer secure documentation storage where parents can upload key documents (such as court orders, medical forms, birth certificates etc.). This, again, reduces the need for constant messaging requesting the same and ensures all key documents are stored safely in a place which is easily accessible by both parents.
What if the other parent refuses to use a Co-Parenting App?
In most cases, the use of a Co-Parenting app is voluntary given that it requires both parties to be on board with the idea for it to be effective.
With the increasing appreciation for the benefits of the apps, if you are in proceedings, you can request that the Court endorse the use of the app for future communication. The courts are now very familiar with these apps and recognise their ability to facilitate effective communication, encourage cooperation and maintain a clear record of communication.
Out of court, the use of a Co-Parenting App is something you can seek to agree whilst preparing a Parenting Plan, through mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution or simply in discussions with the other parent (be that directly or with the help of a professional).
Considerations when choosing a Co-Parenting App
The market is becoming more saturated with different apps making it difficult to decide which App would best suit parents. Ultimately, it is a personal choice that needs to work for both parents.
Below are some key considerations when choosing an app:
- Review the features: different apps have different features. Review the features to decide which you would benefit most from.
- Compatibility: ensure that the chosen app is compatible with both parents’ devices (for example, some may be only available on the Apple App Store which presents an issue if one parent holds a different device).
- Reviews: consider the reviews online
- Cost: explore the free options and the paid options. Keep in mind that if there is a subscription fee, both parents would either need to be happy to pay this or, in some cases, the fee can be covered by one parent. Many apps offer a free trial.
- Security: given the sensitive nature of the communications, check the encryption protocols and security measures of the chosen app to ensure that personal information is appropriately protected.
If you are navigating through a recent separation or breakdown in communication, wish to find out more about improving the co-parenting relationship post separation, or if you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)20 7242 2556 or email@example.com
The team at Dawson Cornwell are specialists in assisting parents from a specialist children law perspective as well as a financial perspective. We work seamlessly to provide cost-effective and comprehensive solutions and we always focus on reaching an amicable agreement wherever possible.
Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.