Matrimonial lawyers constantly deal with clients who say that they don't know what the child's activity schedule is—and complain that the other party is to blame for the failure in communication. Our always connected, multimedia communications comes to the rescue—with “co-parenting” apps to help. While it seems that co-parenting help would be useful for both married and separated parents, the co-parenting apps are mainly aimed at separated and divorced couples. Below are several apps marketed in this area:
Coparently: This app offers both cellular and online tools, including communication, shared expenses, calendaring, and contact information. The cost is $9.99 per month or $99 a year per parent. Coparently does allow for parents to have “guest” and “child” accounts attached to the main account without additional cost. Website: coparently.com.
Cozi: Cozi is not specifically pitched to the divorced/separated market, although certain parts like the calendaring would work for parents in that situation. However, Cozi also has such things as a “to do” list, shopping lists and recipes that while they might be useful to parents who are together, are probably not going to be things separated parents would be sharing. Cozi is free, but if users want a higher level of product (and no ads), the cost is $19.99 per year for a subscription, but it covers all “family members” under that account. Website: cozi.com.
Talking Parents: Unlike Cozi, Talking Parents is targeted at separated/divorced parents. The introductory page specifically states that Talking Parents provides “a fully secure co-parenting communication tool” and “help[s] co-parents communicate and avoid disputes by maintaining an unalterable record of all conversations, important dates, and shared files.” The “unalterable records” contain timestamps and dates. This app also provides shared calendaring and shared file features. The pricing for this one is tricky: It is free only if you communicate online (either through a mobile divorce or computer) through the Talking Parents website. It costs $4.99 per month if users want to install the Talking Parents upgraded app on mobile devices. If a user wants to download records, PDFs of conversations, calendars, or journals, it costs $3.99. “Certified printed records” (whatever that means) are $19.00 plus 19¢ a page, with a 10% discount if the user paid for the upgraded app. Text messages are 5¢ per text. Website: talkingparents.com
Our Family Wizard: This app (OFW for short) wants to be all things to all people—including lawyers and the courts. It even provides a product that lets the writer of an email know when the email is too “emotionally charged,” called “ToneMeter.” OFW has the usual components with shared calendaring, email, texting, and family information storage. It also provides a journal for the user to keep notes. Similar to Talking Parents product, OFW's messaging product supposedly “can never be edited, deleted, or retracted,” and the journal “can serve as your ‘certified,' unchangeable personal incident log.” Clearly, OFW is looking to expand its market, as it conveniently offers language to include in a court order directing the parties to use OFW and brags on its website that “Hundreds of family law judges, justices, and magistrates in all 50 states and 6 Canadian provinces are ordering families in contested cases to use the OurFamilyWizard® website. The reason is simple: families who use OFW® do not return to court nearly as often and, in some cases, ever.” No backup data is supplied for this claim. Costs for OFW depend on what a user wants. A la carte packages start at $99 for one year, bundled ones start at $119.00 for one year, which includes 5GB of storage and ToneMeter. Website: ourfamilywizard.com.
Previously published in the Daily Record, western New York's legal newspaper.