Managing Co Parenting Problems: Our Family Wizard
Sharing custody is hard. When you and your child’s father decide not to stay together, you’ll have to make a commitment, at least to some extent, to sharing the responsibilities related to custody between the two of you. Things that you may not have given a thought to before – like picking up the kids from school or daycare, or communication regarding doctor’s appointments and parent teacher conferences – can become a whole lot more complicated. When you add to an already difficult situation the tensions, emotions, and stresses that you’ll naturally feel as you try to navigate pretty tricky territory, even the simplest tasks related to the kids can become even more difficult.
For some parents, it is borderline impossible. Whatever happened between the two of you to ultimately make you decide that you don’t want to continue a relationship with each other, there’s bound to be some resentments, bitterness, and hurt feelings that linger. It can be even worse than that, too, depending on your situation. There are parents who are completely unable to communicate with each other in any meaningful way; parents who insist that their child’s other parent must jump through hoops to provide them with even the most basic information (even if it’s readily available for them to get themselves). Having to communicate every day (or multiple times a day) can be too much for some parents, who’d rather move on with their lives than feel like their child’s father can manipulate and continue to try to control them—through the kids.
If you ask most moms, they’ll agree that they want their child’s father to be a part of their child’s life. That being said, though, they didn’t stay with him for a reason – probably a lot of reasons – and after the split, whether it was a divorce or just a breakup, communicating becomes a problem. And that’s a problem, because there’s a lot to communicate. Between events at school, extracurricular activities like sports and music and theater, parent teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments, carpools, permission slips, and more, kids require a lot of communicating, at least if both parents are committed to wanting to be involved on a day to day basis.
You may or may not be able to text or email each other. It may add unnecessary stress to your life, and it can be hard to see what has been sent and organize the information in a meaningful way. How do you know whether he got what you sent to him? What if he ignores you and doesn’t respond? How can you quickly and easily share your calendars, so that you can plan summer visitation, or show upcoming appointments, games, matches, or recitals?
Even more importantly, perhaps… How can you make sure that you keep your children out of the middle of things? Do you have to ask them—or do they report to you that their father asked them—what’s going on? Are they having to relay messages between the two of you? It’s definitely not ideal.
It’s hard to share custody, but it’s not impossible—and the kids should never feel like they’re stuck in the middle of two competing parents. If you’re finding that sharing custody is harder than you thought, or that your child’s father is expecting you to jump through crazy hoops to make sure that you’ve shared information with him (information that, no doubt, he could go and get himself, just like you did), you don’t have to suffer through it until your children turn 18.
We recommend Our Family Wizard. It’s an online organizational tool for co parents, so that you can share all the important details. Rather than him requiring you to send all school calendars over to him (and moaning that you didn’t or that he can’t find it or that it somehow got lost in transmittal), you can scan and save them to Our Family Wizard, so that he can log in and see all the information there for himself.
You can share permission forms, reports from the school or counselors or doctors, and even track expenses. There’s also a safe and secure online message board that you can use to communicate back and forth (no more using the kids).
It’s nice to communicate in writing, through an online portal, because you’ll have a written record of any communication that has occurred between the two of you. You can prove what was sent, and what was said—so, if you run into problems later, it’ll be easy to see what’s happening (for the judge or guardian ad litem or attorneys, if they’re involved)—but hopefully that won’t be the case.
If you’re having a hard time managing your parenting time, consider checking out Our Family Wizard. It does have a small annual fee (I think it’s $99 currently), but you can split the cost—and, really, it’s a small price to pay if it makes co parenting easier. In my experience, it solves a lot of the co parenting problems we often see, and allows parents to focus on what’s truly important—parenting.
For more information, or to talk about your custody case with one of our licensed and experienced Virginia custody attorneys, give our office a call at (757) 425-5200.