The term “co-parenting” generally refers to a situation where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced, separated or no longer living together.
Co-parenting can be very challenging, even when there is little or no acrimony between the parents. Managing a child’s appointments, activities, schooling, health, chores, playdates, etc. under one roof is challenging enough. These tasks and responsibilities become even more difficult to manage when the child’s time is split between households.
A number of online tools, such as shared calendars, family management apps, and commercial wish lists, have been introduced into the market in recent years, promising to ease some of the most common co-parenting headaches. These issues include:
- coordinating schedules;
- communication between parents;
- resolving disagreements;
- managing expenses;
- tracking parenting time; and
- tracking support payments
Popular Co-Parenting Tools
Co-parenting and parenting tools and apps that are currently very popular are:
Our Family Wizard: A robust collection of tools, including apps for parents and apps for professionals, that assist with scheduling, messaging, expense tracking, journaling, and notifications. This popular program was launched in 2001 and boasts that families who use Our Family Wizard do not return to court nearly as often as families who don’t. Courts in nearly all 50 states and in 5 Canadian provinces have ordered parties to use this program in contested cases (see below for 2 Canadian examples).
Kidganizer: An app that promises to assist with shared custody management, expenses management, and family management. It also includes an alert system to remind parties of important events and appointments.
Parenting Apart: Created by a divorce coach and parent educator, the app provides guidance on parenting issues post-divorce.
2Houses: These tools facilitate communication and organization, and also assist with expense management, sharing medical and school information, and tracking activities. The program offers both a web platform and mobile apps.
Custody Connection: This calendaring app offers an optional sync feature allowing co-parents to sync and maintain an accurate, shared custody calendar without having to text, email or call.
Custody Junction: Another online tool that helps co-parents facilitate scheduling, track events, and report items such as scheduled possession time vs. actual time, delinquent support payments, and accumulated expenses.
AboutOne: This service promotes an app that combines Google calendar and iPhone with their AboutOne program to store, manage, and access family records. Features include shopping lists, to dos, events, photo sharing, and calendaring.
SplitWise: A simple, free app for sharing bills and IOUs.
Cozi: Billed as “the must-have app for families”, Cozi is free and highly rated. It allows users to keep activities and appointments all in one place, create and share lists and chores, store recipes and add ingredients to your grocery list. It can be accessed and updated from any mobile device or computer.
ChoreMonster: Another family-oriented suite of web and mobile apps. Focused on kids’ chores, the tools allow kids to earn points towards rewards, and simplifies tracking for parents.
Courts Orders and Co-parenting Apps
As referenced above, co-parenting tools are finding their way into court orders in the U.S. and Canada. Of the all the apps summarized above, the one referenced most often by Canadian courts is Our Family Wizard.
In the last 3 years, Ontario courts alone have referenced Our Family Wizard in 62 cases. Among those decisions are a number of cases where parties have been ordered to use Our Family Wizard to communicate. This type of order would typically only result when parties are incapable of communicating in any other civil fashion. Two recent examples are:
- Verdon v. Verdon – In this 2015 decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the parties agreed that all communications about the children should be conducted using Our Family Wizard, and the Court issued an order on consent to this effect.
- Aguirre v. Aguirre – In this 2016 decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Court awarded the mother sole custody of the child, but ordered her to consult with the father prior to making final decisions pertaining to major education, religious and medical/dental decisions through Our Family Wizard. The Court ordered the parties to communicate through Our Family Wizard regarding access and to co-ordinate the child’s activities. The parties were ordered not to contact each other outside of Our Family Wizard unless it was necessary due to an urgent matter for the child.
Conclusion: Yes, There are Many Apps for That
It’s clear there are many apps and online tools to choose from if you want some assistance coordinating the life of your child with your ex. We’ve also seen that you may not have a choice in the matter: a Court may order you to use one of these tools if no other methods of communication are working well.
For advice on co-parenting or any other family law matter, contact Gelman & Associates at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-742-0200 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.