Divorce can be difficult, and when there are children involved it can get even more complicated. Whether you remain friends with your ex-spouse or not, your new post-marriage arrangement may involve a shared custody situation. Every family is different in its child sharing arrangement. One parent may have the child during the week while the other takes them for the weekend. If it's a true 50/50 custody split, the child may spend every other week with each parent. No matter what the schedule, it's important to keep track of the many details of a custody arrangement. There are many tools out there that can make this job easier and also help divorced parents be on the same page as each other. Communication and understanding are key for co-parenting after divorce. Here are a few suggestions:
Get a joint email account
Depending on the age of your child, a joint email for all matters concerning that child may be beneficial. It creates a single, easy to remember contact point for your child for those who are not sure which parent to communicate with. This can be achieved two ways. Sign up for an email account and use it as an alias, so that all incoming emails are automatically forwarded to each parent's personal email. Use the child's name or something like SmithFamily or JohnsParents. Or you can create an email account and make sure both parents have the password for access. This email account will come in handy if your kid is school age. There is usually only one line for an email address on school forms. Use this email to sign them up for summer camp or to give out to their friends' parents to coordinate play dates. That way both parents are getting the same information at the same time. It also means that it is not up to one parent to let the other parent know.
Share a calendar
If you have a complicated custody schedule, or if you switch off holidays, a shared calendar is an important tool. Create a shared online calendar that both parents have access to through Google Calendar or a similar service. It is a bonus that these calendars often sync with smartphones. This will make it crystal clear which parent is responsible for the kids on any given day. You can also add things like swimming lessons, birthday parties your child has been invited to, or special sporting events. Again, each parent has the same information.
Google Drive is your friend
Parents of school age children who go back and forth between houses will find online file sharing services like Google Drive a lifesaver. A student can start their homework at one home and know that they will access to it no matter where they are. Another useful perk of this tool is that you can share documents with the other parent. These shared items may relate to childcare expenses or camp and school registrations. If you are having concerns about the health or behavior of your child, you could consider a shared spreadsheet or log to keep track of conditions or behaviors at each parent's house. For example, parents might share something like "Timmy's nosebleed log" or "Emma's food allergy notes."
More tech means more communication
The options outlined so far are all free and assume that you have (1) internet access and (2) a decent working relationship with your ex-spouse. Don't forget the basics too, like phone, texting, and Skype or FaceTime as a way to keep in touch with your child even when they are with the other parent. Technology can give divorced parents a stable, neutral ground in which to share important information about their children. Hopefully by using these tools, you can avoid misunderstandings with your ex-partner as well as stress for the kids.
Amazon Price: $14.95 $11.20 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 13, 2016)