If you’re in the midst of a divorce or are already divorced, you might have experienced that co-parenting your children with your ex can be quite challenging.
Yet, at the same time, it is essential for the emotional well-being of your children that they are kept out of the middle of any disputes between you and the other parent.
Therefore, you might want to set a goal to transform the way you and your co-parent communicate. Your children can then grow up in an environment where they feel safe and they will learn how to handle confrontation by modeling positive behavior. Also, learning to communicate effectively post-divorce can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees since many post-divorce applications before the court result from disputes over custody and parenting time.
Some ways you can leverage technology to transform your co-parenting communication skills include:
- Email and text. Use of email and text can sometimes promote direct communication between co-parents while limiting heated face to face arguments. I’m not a big fan of couples resorting solely to email exchanges to communicate with one another. Email has been often thought of as a way to keep down the emotional temperature and prevent arguments. In my experience in working with clients, however, I’ve seen that people still “argue” via email and text as it can often be easier to vent behind the computer screen or cell phone than face to face. Then once you hit “send” there is no going back, and this little venting session has a way of popping up as Exhibit A in one spouse’s motion to the court.
- Children’s email accounts and cell phones. When children (of appropriate age) have their own cell phones and email accounts, it can make it easier for you to contact them directly without having to use the other parent as a go-between.
- Skype and Facetime. When one co-parent lives a significant distance away, Skype and Facetime can provide for virtual communication with children.
- Google Calendar. Co-parents can communicate children’s activities, work trips, or changes to parenting time schedules by each establishing a Gmail account and sharing a single calendar. The advantage is that both co-parents can access the calendar online at any time so that one co-parent doesn’t feel as if he or she is being kept in the dark about important activities and there can be advance notice of any changes in schedules.
- The Ourfamilywizard website. This online tool goes well beyond all of the above and takes co-parenting communication to the next level. The minimal cost for a one year subscription can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees. The website features a calendar for scheduling parenting time, including holidays, as well as children’s activities and social events so that both co-parents have equal access at any time. There is also an expense log that allows co-parents to share and track their expenses and payments from separate households. For example, where unreimbursed medical expenses for the children are paid according to the child support guidelines and the custodial parent pays the first $250 per year per child per year, a mechanism can be set up for the custodial parent to calculate his or her payments and share with the other parent his or her allocated share owed. Additional features include an information bank to store contacts, personal information about the children, such as clothing and shoe sizes, medical and school information, and a message board. This website is also used as a tool by family law judges, attorneys, and mediators to help co-parents reduce their chances of returning to court to resolve any disputes. Check it out at www.ourfamilywizard.com.
In short, technology can be leveraged to empower you to communicate effectively with your co-parent so that your children remain front and center – not in the middle – of your communications.