- February 8, 2021
- By Ruth Oyelakin
- 0 comments
Rebuilding communication after separation
Once parents have moved beyond the realms of court proceedings, it is important to consider how they can develop healthy channels of communication for the benefit of the child(ren) involved and to support healthy coparenting. Continuing child arrangements necessitate a reasonable level of communication between separated parties.
It is common to have concerns regarding contact arrangements, particularly where such arrangements did not exist previously. The restrictions on movement introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic can causes some added strain. However, it is important that children are able to have a healthy relationship with both parents and that both parents are able to effectively manage plans between two households. A number of platforms, accessible on the internet and also as via mobile apps, have now been introduced which are intended to help facilitate coparenting and supporting better relationships.
Whilst the pandemic continues, parties are also able to engage in mediation remotely on platforms such as Zoom. Mediation should not be seen as only a necessary step before engaging in litigation, but it also a helpful forum to discuss contact arrangements freely in an open environment.
Online Platforms and Mobile Apps
Our Family Wizard
The Our Family Wizard website, iOS and Android mobile app, created in 2001, helps parents to manage shared parenting schedules and coparenting information from separate homes.
With Our Family Wizard parties can upload their schedule information, files, contact plans and communicate through a direct messaging facility. This means that parties are able to resolve child arrangement difficulties, if any, faster without any confusion. The available tools document your contact arrangements, child-related expenses, exchanges and more. Parties will have access to an Info Bank, where they can store all of the information that they need to share, such as school records, emergency contact details and medical information. Parties can also tag locations, check-in at handovers and also use a Tone Meter when composing messages and entries. The Tone Meter analyses the tone of a message as it is being written. It will highlight areas of concern and provide feedback as to how the tone of each phrase may be received. This gives parties an opportunity to reword messages before sending them. In respect of expenses, parties can request reimbursement, upload receipts and documents payments. You can also download detailed reports through the platform and court admissible records. This helps to keep parties accountable and avoids the manipulation of records.
The Our Family Wizard platform allows for a number of accounts to be set up in each case. This means that it is possible to set up an account for both parents or guardians, the child(ren), a nominated third party and legal practitioners. You can also arrange for each account holder to have varying levels of access to family information, which can be particularly useful. For instance, parties can choose to prevent the child(ren) from seeing the content of any direct communications between them and their solicitors, whilst still being able to have access to diarised activities and uploaded photographs.
Professional access in Our Family Wizard provides a way for counsel, solicitors, court and other professionals to access parent activity and work with clients. Parties are now more frequently incorporating the use of Our Family Wizard as a means of communication – occasionally the sole means of communication – in court orders.
You can discover more about Our Family Wizard on their website: www.ourfamilywizard.co.uk
Two alternative resources are 2houses and AppClose, which are both available as mobile apps.
They are both similarly designed to assist separated parents to communicate and become organised for the well-being of their children. Parties can stay connected through a shared calendar and they can keep track of events such as family gatherings, appointments and after school activities and they can share upcoming plans.
Parties can communicate directly and exchange information. You can also communicate with your solicitor through the app and export any message conversations if needed for any reason. In addition, you can retain accurate record of exchanges between as conversations cannot be altered or deleted. Parties can also store confidential information and enjoy the convenience of having all of their parenting communications in once location, separate to the rest of your mobile phone activity.
You can discover more about 2house on their website: https://www.2houses.com/en/
You can discover more about AppClose on their website: https://appclose.com/
Mediation is a way of resolving disputes and difficult issues between separating couples, including child arrangements. Mediators are trained in conflict management and can help people who are finding it hard to communicate to resolve their disputes. They are also able to address the management of any on-going communication difficulties.
Mediation can help couples to communicate and cooperate, explore and examine options and tailor-make solutions to their particular requirements, whilst considering the needs of any child(ren) and keeping legal costs to a minimum.
Whilst the government has placed restrictions on movement as a result of the pandemic, it is now possible for mediation to be facilitated through online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams. The Breakout room facility on Zoom allows the meeting host to split the Zoom meeting into separate sessions. The host can then engage with each party separately and move between rooms before re-joining all parties into one meeting.
A mediator will meet each party separately at first to assess whether the circumstances are suitable for mediation. They will then identify the issues that are not agreed and try and reach an agreement. The role of the mediator is to facilitate an agreement reached between the parties rather than to impose an agreement, which is what a court can do.
Mediators are impartial and will not take sides, but they will also help both parties to find a voice in the negotiations. They are not legal advisors in the mediation process and cannot give specific legal advice, however they can give legal information about the basic principles of family law. Mediators will where appropriate, recommend that you obtain legal advice throughout the mediation process. If mediation is successful and you have reached agreement then you can ask your lawyer to have the agreement embodied in a Parenting Plan or binding court order. It is important to note that orders should not be made by the court in respect of children unless it is in the interests of the child(ren) to have the order. This is known as the “no order” principle.
We have a very experienced team of mediators at Anthony Gold and for more information about mediation please see our website https://anthonygold.co.uk/services/family-and-relationships/family-mediation
*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*
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