How Third-Party Platforms Can Improve Post-Divorce Communication and Co-Parenting

February 23, 2024

Communication within a relationship can be challenging, and it becomes even more so after the relationship has ended. However, it reaches its peak difficulty during a breakup. Parties often resort to text messages or phone calls, especially when discussing matters concerning their minor children. Unfortunately, post-breakup communication can turn hostile, weaponized, and negative, with minor disagreements escalating into major conflicts, and the original intent of messages getting distorted. This scenario is quite common and understandable given the emotional turmoil of the situation.

Utilizing Third-Party Platforms for Effective Communication

It’s crucial for both parties and their children to maintain positive and amicable communication despite the circumstances. Many courts, upon request from one party, mandate the use of third-party platforms for communication. Popular options include Our Family Wizard, Talking Parents, or AppClose, which are co-parenting apps accessible via mobile phones. While some platforms require a subscription fee, others are free or offer upgraded features for a fee. For instance, Our Family Wizard has an annual subscription of $120.00, while Talking Parents provides a free basic service with a premium subscription option at $24.99 per month, offering additional features like recorded phone and video calls.

Benefits of Third-Party Platforms

There are several benefits to using a third-party platform. The conversations can be documented and saved for longer periods of time compared to text messages. Some text message threads will only be saved for a few months, while these applications may save the messages for years. In addition, the messages can be archived for future Court use. Since the third party platform holds the messages, you can present them as evidence and have been them be authenticated by the company.

Ensuring Authenticity and Accountability

During a trial, attorneys try to question the authenticity of a text message and create doubt as to whether they have been altered. Parties will try to screenshot their text messages to show the Judge how their ex-partner is speaking to them. However, these text messages may not show the date or time of the communication. In presenting messages to the Court, you must show who is communicating in the text messages. Most people will save their contacts with their full name. However, those can be changed, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the message is truly going to that person.

For example, Sam’s ex-partner is named Michael and they claim Michael is disparaging them with horrible names. Sam wants to show their text message thread with Michael. They take a screenshot of the text message and at the top of the message the name reads “Mike.” We can see the messages between Sam and Michael, and we can see “Mike” saying horrible things about Sam. However, Sam may have changed the name of another contact to create this text message thread. Sam is actually texting his sister, Katie, who is pretending to be Michael and has changed his sister’s contact to the name “Mike.” With a third-party platform, this would not be an issue.

On the third-party platform, upon registration each party has to connect with each other to verify their accounts. Another practical tip, if a person is screenshotting messages, they should make sure the other party’s phone number appears at the top of the message. During the trial, you can verify the message’s sender or recipient by them telling the court their phone number.

Streamlining Communication and Focus on Your Children

By using a third-party platform, parties will typically be on their best behavior if they know the messages can be monitored by the Court. If parties use Our Family Wizard, each side can give professional access to their attorneys. This permits their attorneys to see the messages and download important conversations to reference during your case. Professional access does not permit attorneys to send their own messages to the parties.

Most of the platforms also have a calendar and expense log. This feature alone is very helpful for clients to communicate about the children’s activities and any associated costs. Each parent has the duty to notify the other parent of appointments and activities for the children. If one parents schedules a doctor’s appointment, they should upload the appointment to the calendar. The other parent will receive notice of the appointment. This will satisfy the notification requirement, and the parties don’t have to discuss any further. It is common for parties to text about one topic then get off track which typically leads to arguments about things not related to the children. By having the calendar notify the parent, you have reduced the chance of irrelevant arguments.

Similarly, the platforms may allow the parties upload their expenses to specific folder. This allows the parties to track the costs for extracurricular activities, school lunches, or out of pocket medical expenses. It allows the parties to be streamline their communication and put their focus on their children.

Prioritizing Effective Communication for the Well-Being of Children

It is highly recommended that you utilize one of these third-party platforms during your divorce or custody battle. If you only want to use it for the first year, that would be agreeable. At the same time, it is a great resource to reduce conflict, promote better communication and remain focused on the children.

For questions regarding your divorce, please contact KJK Family Law Partner Carly Boyd (CBoyd@kjk.com; 213.736.7254).