Crafting and sticking to a co-parenting plan is easier with software apps, which allow parents to create, describe, and track all types of data. Google’s free consumer apps provide parents with tools that allow quick, easy, and comprehensive collaboration. A parent can download all of the files they create to create paper documents for their records or to submit to family court.
Google’s free consumer apps include Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. Sheets are helpful for storing data. It allows parents to sort and manipulate items in spreadsheets. Calendar allows parents to plan appointments, track who has agreed to attend appointments, and when they chose to send their reply. Meet has proven useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, to meet digitally and record meeting sessions.
The objective of a co-parenting plan is to showcase how the parents have established that they are cooperating. A co-parenting plan also helps the parents form agreements regarding the custody of their children. The apps back up the parents’ attempts. They provide notifications, track negotiations, ping parents with reminders, and help parents determine costs.
For example, say one of the children wants to attend a stay-away camp over the summer. A parent can use Google Calendar to let the other parent know the dates the child is expected to be at the camp. They can then use Sheets or Docs to create a running list of items the child will need for the camp. Parents can then store all Sheets and Docs related to their children in Drive. They can then share the folders in Drive with grandparents and other relatives who may be caring for the children.
There are specific features within the apps that are especially useful. One is the recurring event in Calendar. This allows a parent to schedule a child for an event like a supervised visit or swim practice at the same time every day, week, or month. Docs works offline, meaning if a party’s internet goes out, the individual can still use it to update a document.
Sheets allows a user to write formulas similar to those in other spreadsheet apps, like Excel. For example, a user could put the costs of items on a list for a child’s sports activity into a Sheet. They could then write a formula to add the total for the items at the bottom. When they share the Sheet with the other parent, the other parent could write a formula on the line below the total to halve the amount of the total cost. This would allow the parents to equally share the cost of the activity.
One important item to remember is that if parents are planning to download and share files from Google’s apps with the court, certain details will be recorded by the apps. For example, there may be a timestamp on when a party sent an email through Gmail or accepted the invitation for a Calendar event. A party who shares a file with the court should review the information in the app with their divorce lawyer if they have to answer questions about the files. That way the party will be sure to testify accurately about the files submitted to the court. This type of review could save a party from being accused of perjury in a custody proceeding.
If you have a local family law attorney helping you through your case, then you can always ask them to help put requirements in your settlement agreement to use these types of technological tools in your co-parenting plan. Also, by setting this up at the beginning of the divorce process it can help both parties (and the attorneys) more efficiently co-parent by the time the divorce is done. Just keep this in mind when you are going through a divorce and hopefully you and your spouse can utilize these apps to maintain better relations and co-parent more efficiently.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!