4 essential online tools for life after divorce
By Ann-Marie Corvin
With reports of the divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in the news, parents may find their children asking questions about the subject.
One of the areas such a high profile divorce brings to the fore is how parents who split up manage their schedules - particularly difficult when you have six children, as they do.
Fortunately the online world is full of useful scheduling tools to keep on top of custody schedules, important events and shared expenses. If you are in the same position as Brad and Angelina, here is a list of four tools that could make co-parenting easier - no matter how many children you have.
This real time video messaging service offers pretty much everything you need to keep in touch, much of it free and has become a popular way for non-resident parents to remain in contact with their children. This has led to press reports on the rise of the ‘Skype Dad’ as well as to virtual visitation rights making their way into family law. Skype is designed for users over the age of 13 so younger children need to be supervised by the other parent. For a guide to what parents needs to know about using Skype safely, click here.
Used appropriately, email can be a good tool for divorcing parents. Generally, both parties will have access to email at least once a day and it can avoid disputes about what was said as well as angry telephone conversations. Try to keep messages brief, business-like and to the point. Be factual and ask for information but resist the urge to accuse or blame. Some experts advise that newly separated parents apply a two-hour rule between composing and sending emails, especially ones written in anger or while upset.
3 Google Calendar
This online calendar allows you to create events, send invitations and share schedules, making it an ideal tool to organise important events in the lives of children. Shifting the emphasis to the joint creation of an easily searchable record can also focus attention away from the parents and towards the needs of the child. It’s free but you’ll need to create an account with Google even if you elect not to use the email service. One parent will need to create a calendar exclusively about the child/children and share access to the calendar with the other parent who will then need to accept this offer and it’s crucial that both check the box that generates an email notifying each of you that a new entry/amendment has been entered. Depending on the age of the child, you may wish to share the calendar with them so they know exactly where they are supposed to be and when.
4 Co-parenting apps
There are also a number of calendar-based apps specifically designed for separated families which claim to help them keep on top of their schedules and shared expenses. Some such as SquareHub and 2Houses are free, while others, such as OurFamilyWizzard are subscription based. There are also apps like Kidganizer which charge a small downloading fee. Many come with additional features, such as child custody schedules, holiday scheduling, list making, messaging and photo and comment sharing.
* Please note, Parent Zone does not endorse any of these apps and has not tested them. Please do your own research before downloading.
This article also appears on ParentInfo.org.
For further information on helping childen cope with divorce, read Parent Info's article, 10 ways parents can make divorce less painful for their children.