I often get asked if there are apps which help couples co-parent during their separation process and to assist them going forward. Some of these may be helpful during the current lockdown period particularly for photo sharing if in isolation or unable to be with the other parent.
As each couple will be different and have different requirements, it is difficult to give a specific recommendation. Some families simply want a shared calendar function to set out where and with whom the children may be or important dates. Others may want a shared finance platform which allows joint expenditure to be considered and manage the relevant contributions to be taken into account. Others want a simple communication tool that isn’t email or text or WhatsApp, as they use these in their daily lives and want to keep family communication separate. This is particularly common when the separation may be more acrimonious and therefore want a separate chat area that is simply reserved for an ex‑partner.
Some communication tools allow the messages to be printed and produced to the court evidencing a course of conduct or choice of language and whilst this is never desirable, the stream of communication is at least in one place and not cherry picked.
At least one of the apps mentioned below also has an inbuilt tone meter, which provides an emotional spellcheck to ensure that communication is civil and clearly where separations are acrimonious, this can be a useful tool to help rebuild trust and enable sensible and civil communication going forward.
If you do come across other apps that you are able recommend, then please do let me know, good or bad, so I can share the feedback with clients and colleagues.
In no particular order, I have set out six apps that clients have used:
OurFamilyWizard – www.ourfamilywizard.co.uk This was specifically designed for co-parenting. It provides a shared parenting calendar, expense log and payment tracking function. There is a secure message and family data storage facility.
The message board is date and time stamped as to when communication is sent and viewed by each parent. It also has a built in tone meter which individuals can use to provide the emotional spellcheck although there is an extra cost to the same, this cost is however relatively cheap to ensure civil communication and should mean less fees for lawyers. There is an expense log which allows couples to reimburse each other for payments and there is a tracking application which when enabled can notify the parent that the children have checked in at important locations. In some circumstances this could be relevant for school or other parent’s home, etc.
My initial research shows that the current subscription starts at £79 per year, or £99 per year with the tone meter included, with a 30 day money back guarantee.
2Houses – www.2houses.com Again, this is specifically designed for co-parenting , the app contains a shared calendar, expenses and private messaging service, together with a journal for quick reference handovers, as well as a storage facility for the creation of photos, notes, etc. The link to the website above has a video which shows the functionality.
My research would suggest that there is a 14 days free trial period, but thereafter it is £8.25 per month or £99 per year.
WeParent – www.weparent.app This app allows you to create calendars and use colours and schedules to track school terms, holidays and identify where the children will be staying on a daily basis. Again, it creates a secure messaging platform to keep communication in one place. It has the ability to store photos and there is a place for shared lists, which can be useful for perhaps organising Christmas and birthday presents.
With this app you have a 14 day trial period, but then pay $9.99 per month which then enables the entire family to use.
Cozi – www.cozi.com This is a free application that I found, which provides a colour coded calendar, shopping and to do list with recipe box and family journal. Again, the whole family can share one account. This is shared through using their own email addresses. Whilst the free app is functional, there is the ability to obtain a Gold subscription service which ensures that there are no annoying adverts, which can cause disruption to the functionality of the app. You can change colours and themes, have a monthly view of the calendar and multiple reminders and contacts area.
FamCal – This free app is an easy to use calendar which can be shared with the whole family, again through colour coding. You can share and create lists and memos. The free version contains adverts, but with a subscription service there are enhanced features, for example the ability to see a calendar in a month view and share contacts. As with the Cozi app above, I have not signed up to the subscription services so am unable to provide cost options.
FamilyWall – www.familywall.com Whilst I am sure that this was created for families that are still together, the functionality works well for separated families with a similar shared calendar, lists and photo and video albums. It contains a secure messaging service. As with OurFamilyWizard, the interesting part for me is the app “family locator” which allows parents to use location tracking to keep an eye on children, with options to set as ‘home’, ‘work’ and ‘school’ and receive notifications when they arrive. Thankfully in this case, each member can easily manage and identify who he or she wants to share their location with.
At present, this app is free for 30 days before I believe a £4 per month subscription is applied which has enhanced features such as syncing with Google and enable you to upload HD photos and videos.
The Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is also recommending AppClose which can be downloaded free of charge and is a useful app containing the majority of the above. The expenditure/repayment option is not available at present but the US provider is hoping to resolve for the UK soon
As technology becomes more sophisticated, individuals will be looking for different things and whilst these will always be useful aids to separating couples, parenting still relies upon good communication and sensible decision making with the best interests of the children put first.