Our Family Wizard – An Effective Way to Co-Parent

Transitioning from spouses to co-parents following a divorce or separation can be difficult, especially if the issues that led to the separation or divorce continue to affect the parents’ relationship. This can be particularly problematic, however, when children are involved. Following divorce or separation, it should be each parent’s goal to learn to effectively co-parent with the other. Our Family Wizard (OFW) is a program that is designed to do just that. The OFW website, which is also available as an app for Android and iPhone, tracks communications between the parents, allows the parents to set and make changes to a custodial timeshare calendar, and permits parents to share expenses and deadlines to pay those expenses. The court can have access to the parents’ communications, which helps eliminate the “he said/she said” arguments if the court must resolve any issues.

Custodial Timeshare Calendar

Parents generally try to establish a weekly timeshare and holiday schedule when they divorce to ensure that each parent spends time with the children. The custodial timeshare and holiday schedule provides a consistent and set schedule that the children and parents can use to make plans. Despite the fact that parents try to plan a consistent custodial timeshare that both the children and the parents can rely on, it is not surprising that the timeshare can be affected by work, extracurricular activities, events, and emergencies.

Screen shot 2011-10-18 at 2_24_37 PM_0Our Family Wizard allows parents to input their custodial timeshare and holiday and vacation schedule into a calendar so that each parent can clearly see the schedule each week. If either parent would like to alter the custodial timeshare, they can do so by making a request for trade on OFW, which the other parent can then accept or refuse. Counteroffers can be made, and OFW documents all trade requests so that either party can easily trace agreements. Parents can also share information regarding the children’s events, such as doctor appointments and extracurricular activities, by entering those events into the calendar.

Without programs like OFW, parents are required to email, text, or call the other parent to make such changes. Unfortunately, if there are any disagreements as to changes to the custodial timeshare, each parent is required to save all documented communication to prove that the parties were in mutual agreement at one time. This requires a lot of time and effort on each parent’s part, and possibly several forms of communication. OFW allows the parents to have one program that saves and documents all communication with timestamps of when the communication was sent and when it was viewed by the other parent, and allows the court to view that communication to resolve any issues. The timestamp feature also resolves the issue of one parent claiming to have not received messages from the other parent. This produces clear and compelling records should the court need to be involved in resolving issues.

Holiday and Vacation

Parents usually agree to a holiday and vacation timeshare at the time of divorce. For holidays, it is common for parents to alternate each holiday each year. Each parent is generally allowed fourteen days of vacation time each year, and the holiday and vacation timeshare overrides the normal custodial timeshare. OFW allows each parent to give advance notice of the days on which they would like to exercise their vacation time. OFW also sets out a calendar for the parents so that they can see the visitation schedule and update it if changes are made.

Sharing Cost of Medical Expenses

When most parents divorce, they agree that either one or both parents will provide health insurance for the children, and they will equally split the costs of any unreimbursed medical expenses under the 30/30 Rule. The 30/30 Rule requires the parent incurring an unreimbursed medical expense to notify the other parent in writing within 30 days of paying the expense. The other parent then has 30 days from the day of notification to reimburse the paying parent for half of that expense. OFW allows a parent to notify the other parent of unreimbursed medical expenses in an online expense log. When the other parent pays, he or she can mark the expense as paid

Parents can also schedule future payments for child support or upcoming expenses, such as for the child’s extracurricular activities. OFW will document when the request for payment was made and send an automatic notification any time a new expense is entered.Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9_26_53 AM

In conclusion, OFW is an effective tool that permits families to resolve issues without court involvement, reduce conflict, track parenting time, and be accountable. It also has the potential to decrease costs for the parents. Without OFW, parents often resort to litigation to resolve issues, which can become costly in attorneys’ fees.

Most importantly, OFW allows the parents to communicate without involving the children. Children should not be in the middle of the parents’ conflict or used as messengers between the parents. OFW shields children from divorce communications, and helps parents co-parent.