How is technology used in co-parenting situations?
Certain electronic systems exist to better facilitate communication between parties in family law cases and to coordinate custody and visitation schedules. One popular example is a tool known as “Our Family Wizard,” which tracks things like communications about the child, child custody calendars, visitation/parenting time schedules, and shared expenses. Your communications are tracked with functions such as an electronic journal, a message board, expense log, and calendar. WomensLaw is not affiliated with Our Family Wizard or any other co-parenting technology tool and cannot vouch for any products. Our Family Wizard is only named as an example.
How is using technology to co-parent helpful?
Technology tools that track your communications can protect you if there is a dispute between you and your co-parent about what was said since there is a record of the communications. If your co-parent is abusive, having a record of the conversation may deter him/her from using custody and visitation communications to harass you. Alternatively, the communication log may help if you have to prove abuse/harassment in court or provide documentation to an attorney or law enforcement official. Additionally, having clear visitation schedules that clarify the custody arrangement can be useful for when parents need to plan vacations or other activities. Using co-parenting tools could also eliminate the child’s exposure to certain high-conflict communications that may otherwise happen in person or over the phone.
Are there any risks or limitations with using technology to help with co-parenting communications?
Generally state laws do not require a judge to order how parents communicate while co-parenting (one exception might be if there is a restraining order in place). Judges may be reluctant to issue an order requiring that parents use technology to co-parent because they may not be familiar with the technology, may not believe they have the power to make that type of order, or may find it is inappropriate for some other reason. Additionally, these programs usually require a fee for use, so that may prohibit you from having access to them. To think through whether or not using some sort of communication tool may work for your situation, you may want to talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody and domestic violence issues.
You can learn about general custody laws in your state on our Custody page by selecting your state from the drop-down menu.