Child Custody Tools: A Helpful Guide for Co-Parenting in The Digital Age
Being a parent is a rewarding yet challenging job. It is hard work no matter if you live with your co-parent, live apart, or raise your children singlehandedly. For divorced or separated parents, there comes an additional challenge that is often overlooked. In addition to raising your child on your own, you also have to work with another parent, informing them of your child’s day to day happenings, organizing custody exchanges, and updating them on medical and financial concerns.
This is where technology comes in. Over the years, computers, text messaging, and other services have made sharing information like this far easier. Where you might have had to speak with your co-parent face to face on a regular basis, possibly at your discomfort, technology allows for you to relay everything easily without the need to be in the room with someone who you would rather not see. Here are just some of the tools you can use to help make your custody arrangement significantly easier to navigate.
Forget the paper calendar. Instead, look at a google calendar or some other electronic calendaring system. To begin setting up your custody calendar, we suggest that you begin by using your child’s current school calendar. The school calendar should have early release days, holidays, and breaks noted. Then, input your child’s activities like music lessons, tutoring, scouts, sports practices and games, dance recitals, etc. Parents can also share their holiday and travel plans and visits with grandparents and other third parties. Dentist and other health care appointments can and should be added as well.
A shared calendar is very helpful so that each parent knows when and where a child is and where the child needs to be. This systematic approach provides stability and security for both parents and their children. Parents who have used a shared calendar or calendaring app report that the shared schedule information reduces miscommunications and conflicts.
The security and stability of each parent using a calendaring app has the benefit of also helping the child understand and realize that there is a system in place to help his or her parents plan. A well-controlled calendar will promote balance and constancy for all the parties involved.
Child Support Calculators
When determining what custody will look like, it is important to who will be paying child support and how much child support will be owed each month. Child support is determined by the difference in income between parents, the number of overnights a child spends with each parent, and other expenses like insurance and child support being paid towards other children.
The best thing about using a child support calculator is that they are updated based on state guidelines, so you can typically predict that your results using a child support calculator will accurately reflect or at least come close to the actual amount you will be expected to pay. The child support calculator on our website can get you started.
For parents who want to view all of the information about their child in one structured, convenient place, there are custody apps that will streamline the job for you. Custody portals allow parents to use the tools we’ve listed above in conjunction with each other, as well as additional tools. Many of these apps have internal messaging systems you can use, so text messages and emails can be reduced. Additionally, the messages stored in these apps can be used as evidence should there be an issue with custody and you need to pursue legal action against the other parent in a worst case scenario. These apps are helpful to parents who are co-parenting with little to no disagreement as well as to parents who would describe their situation as being full of disagreements and toxicity.
Many custody apps feature expense tracking tools; portals for sharing pictures; contact information for relatives, babysitters, medical professionals; document storage; journaling space, etc. These tools can have color coded functions and even messaging tips for communicating. These apps will synchronize with your other schedules and calendars. They will also feature links to co-parenting blogs and forums.
These apps can range from being free to a few hundred dollars a year. We have our own custody portal for your convenience, or you can try one of the many other apps on the market: 2Houses, We Parent, Cozi, FamCal, Our Family Wizard, and others. Many have a free trial period. Try one; we think you will see that using a co-parenting tool/application will help you reduce some of the stress that comes with parenting and co-parenting. Take advantage of what technology can do for you and your child.