Spring brings one of the busiest seasons of all for k-12 students, and, with that, comes the juggling of baseball, softball, and track schedules, dance recital rehearsals, parent-teacher conferences, and spring break plans for busy co-parents.
For those not only managing the co-parenting of a busy kid but also powering through things like work schedules and demands, taking care of elderly parents, trying to make time for a social life and so much more, anything that makes co-parenting with an ex the tiniest bit easier has the potential to be a saving grace. Luckily, the list of apps with that potential continues to grow, and I’ve even added some non-conventional app suggestions to our list.
The most important thing about co-parenting, whether you and your ex share joint custody or one of you was awarded primary custody with visitation to the other, is to always speak, act, and listen in the best interest of your child. If that means using some non-conventional tools like these apps to communicate effectively with your ex, then so be it. And if one parent chooses not to act in the best interest of the child, most of the apps suggested in this post will document the situation, should the situation come to the need for court intervention.
Below are my top app recommendations for parents raising their child with an ex.
Life360 is an app that provides family members with the location of other family members. Depending on your settings, you can receive real-time notifications of when your child leaves and arrives at frequently visited places like home, school, and friends’ houses. At any time, a parent can track their child’s location on a map, providing peace of mind that many parents find invaluable. This is a great app for parents of pre-teens and teenagers. Each parent can be part of the Life360 group and eliminate the need for constant questions about where your co-parent or child is during your non-possession period.
I heard Life360 described once as “Find My iPhone on steroids,” and, boy, is it ever. Parents are alerted when their child’s phone battery is getting low so that it is not a surprise when the phone goes dead. The child’s speed in miles per hour can be provided to the parents, making speeding down the highway not only a ticketed offense but also a grounding offense for 16-year-olds whose parents use Life360. Emergency response, crash detection, and roadside assistance are offered in the Driver Protect membership for $7.99/month, while most features a parent would want are offered in the Plus version, priced at just $2.99/month.
SplitWise is not advertised nor created for co-parenting. The app is used for friends and family traveling together. Each person can enjoy his or her trip without worrying about who is paying for what and how much each has spent on items benefiting the group.
The app keeps a running list of expenses covered by each person, and, at the end of the trip, it provides a list of who is owed what amount by whom. This could easily be used by co-parents who share costs for medical co-pays, prescriptions, shoes and clothing, daycare costs, and so much more. Users could decide to “split” the costs each week, month, or quarter. The pro version is what co-parents would need, because it provides a receipt uploading feature. The pro version is $2.99/month.
Trello is also not a custody or divorce app. However, the more you use Trello the more you find uses for it in everyday life. The features of Trello boards, cards, and lists lend themselves easily to co-parenting.
From the beginning, Trello boards were marketed to be organized with cards labeled To Do, Doing, and Done with lists pinned to each that could easily be dragged from To Do, to Doing, and, finally, to Done once the task on a list was completed. Within each list, you can attach documents and make checklists.
The possibilities are endless with Trello for a co-parent willing to put in the work to make a Trello board (or five or six?) perfectly tailored to fit the needs of both parents sharing a child with their ex.
One might start with the standard To Do, Doing, and Done cards and continue with additional cards labeled Support, Discussion, Extra-Curricular Activities, School Calendar, and more. If a basketball schedule is handed out at practice one day, a good use of the app would be for the parent who picked up the child to attach a picture or scanned in copy of it to the Extra-Curricular Activities card and “tag” the co-parent. The checklist function would be a great way for a custodial parent to share with a non-custodial co-parent things like nighttime and morning routines for a toddler.
All of these features are available on the free version of Trello which limits users to 10 Team Boards at a time. For $12.50/month, you can upgrade to Business Class for unlimited Team Boards.
Talkspace is an app-based therapy company that connects licensed therapists to users to speak through text messages, phone calls, and video chats. Plans start at $65/week.
While solo therapy sessions are offered, couples therapy is a feature that may help co-parents work out the details of their relationship while emotions are still at an all-time high following divorce or custody lawsuits. Talkspace even provides therapy services for teenagers, something parents may consider for their teen during a contentious divorce or custody battle.
While this app can’t help split expenses or exchange messages between parents, it may do the trick in taking some of the heated exchanges about communication and shared expenses down a notch or two.
Through OurFamilyWizard, each parent can communicate and share schedules without ever leaving the app. There's no need for ex-spouses using OFW to send text messages to each other to effectively co-parent. These features appeal to parents who truly want a co-parenting relationship to work but want to leave behind their past relationship problems. Calendar sharing is a necessity, app or no app, when your child hits the age that he or she is involved with extra-curricular activities.
At that point, there will be three schedules to merge into one: the schedules of both co-parents AND the schedule of the child (and one day – gasp – a teenager!).
OurFamilyWizard has perfected the calendaring needs that are so very unique to co-parents, and, if for no other reason, co-parents should utilize this app to manage their schedules. Another popular feature offered in the app is the option to upload receipts and reimburse one another for court-ordered expenses such as medical co-payments.
When parents have to meet for pick up and drop off, co-parents can use the app to “check-in” at the agreed-upon location. When one parent inevitably needs to change up the visitation schedule, that parent can request to switch possession weeks, weekends, days, or hours to by simply sending a “Trade/Swap” request to the other parent for approval.
A notification will later appear on the phone of the parent who requested the swap, letting him or her know whether the co-parent approved or denied the request.
The genius behind all of this technology is that every step of the way, the process is documented for both parents. By keeping communication confined to the app, parents leave less room for miscommunication. Everything is documented should there be a need to go back to court. Your family law attorney will be pleased, I'm sure, at the precise documentation. However, with technology like this, it’s less likely a co-parenting team will need intervention by the court.
OurFamilyWizard plans start at $99.00/year. It’s by far the most expensive app on our list, but it is truly an all-in-one hub for co-parents. Download OurFamilyWizard on the App Store here. Get it on Google Play here.
The app coParenter has many of the same features offered by OurFamilyWizard. Expanding on the trade/swap feature, if the request to swap is denied by the other parent, the coParenter app takes the idea a step further by offering live on-demand “coaching” from a third party to work through the issue.
Parents who wish to use the app but can't get the other parent on board can use the coParenter app in “Solo Mode,” and messages sent to the parent who does not use the app will be sent as a text message. Still, the benefit of keeping communication limited to the app only for the lone parent choosing to use the app could be beneficial for documentation purposes.
This app is for child support payments and additional payments that are reimbursable either by court order or by agreement. Did your child recently get glasses? Is that an expense for which both parents are ordered to pay one-half? Upload the receipt or supporting documentation and request reimbursement for the one-half owed by your co-parent in the app. Your co-parent can reimburse you by making a payment with a card on file in the app or through eCheck or PayPal.
The app documents payment history, expense entries, and receipts. All data, including dates of requests, receipts, and responses or lack thereof from a parent, can be exported at a moment’s notice if a dispute arises between the parties.
SupportPay offers a free version for those looking to use the app for child support payments only. The premium version billed either $19.99/month or $180.00/year includes all the bells and whistles that make this a remarkable tool to cut down on arguments between co-parents over support payments and medical co-pay reimbursement or splitting. Download SupportPay on the App Store here. Get it on Google Play here.
This app is best used to replace text message communication between parents. Messages sent through the app are time-stamped for use in court. Both parents know that the messages are being stored and time-stamped for ease of use in court. This app keeps both parents accountable, with a constant reminder to act in the best interest of the child or children at all times, including during communication with the child’s other parent.
There is also a feature that allows users to make personal journal notes that are not viewable by the other parent. For this feature, in particular, you should speak to your custody or divorce attorney about whether he or she advises the use of this feature.
TalkingParents is reasonably priced at $5.99/month. Download TalkingParents on the App Store here. Get it on Google Play here.
Are we missing some useful apps on this list? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org