Unlike couples without children who divorce, parents who divorce must continue to have a degree of a relationship with one another.
Often parents who enter into a divorce are able to focus on the experience and best interest of their children when envisioning the parenting plan – but this may not be the same as the day-to-day experience with the child custody arrangement.
A theoretical plan to co-parent can be much different than a parenting plan put into action: the theoretical tends to assume best case scenario, while the reality encompasses life changes and ongoing relationships. As time passes, the need to have a relationship with someone that may trigger a plethora of unpleasant emotions and memories can be difficult. At times, even the best-intentioned parenting plans can fall apart – and everyone suffers: parents, partners, and children alike.
Perhaps one of the more problematic issues in co-parenting while separate or divorced is ongoing communication between the parents. Parents living separate lives still have to coordinate their parenting as if they were together: participation in extra-curricular activities, transportation, holidays and vacations, addressing children’s emotional and physical needs, and otherwise facilitating an effortless of a transition and experience for the children who have two distinct homes.
Although creating positive communication when co-parenting separate or divorced can be daunting, it is far from impossible; and technology has given parents more accessible options than ever before.
Free Co-Parenting Options
Some free co-parenting communication options include shared calendars, instant messaging and email accounts through readily available providers such as google or yahoo. Parents can create dedicated email and instant message accounts for parental communication. Vacations, extracurricular activities, events, meetings, and exceptions to established scheduling can be clearly documented on shared web-based calendars. Parents may wish to create a free and private website that includes all pertinent information through google – specifically called a wiki.
Subscription Based Co-Parenting Options
Another option for parents are subscription-based co-parenting tools. These services generally include email, child-related contact information, calendars, expenses, health records, etc. The prices for these services vary, but generally cost each parent less than $10/month.
A favorite one of CFR Mediation and some court systems is:
There are others however including:
The catch is that both parents need to agree to use the same system. Planning to use a program when creating the parenting plan is the best time, as opposed to waiting for problems or issues in co-parenting. Consider bringing this up in your divorce or parenting mediation work together to create a plan that prevents future frictions and promotes a positive experience for you and your children.