If parenting can be hard, parenting after a separation can be exponentially harder.
To do it well, take advantage of all the help you can get. One form of help available to you is a co-parenting app.
These apps let you:
- Create your ideal changeover calendar, check it easily and make adjustments as necessary.
- Store digital files — e.g. report cards, work schedules, receipts — and share them with your co-parent.
- Message your co-parent.
Certain co-parenting apps let you go beyond those tasks, with tools to help parents document agreements, track expenses, and more.
At the end of the day, these apps help parents work together from a distance, and they promote civility.
Given all this, the dilemma often isn’t whether co-parents should use an app but which one they should use.
To help you choose, we’ve ranked our top six apps for separated parents in Australia. Here’s how they stack up.
But first, here’s our latest guide on how to finalise your divorce papers:
Custody X Change
This online app walks you through topics you should discuss when planning for post-separation parenting. It lets you write your own provisions into your plan, as well as choose from common provisions — for example, “Neither parent will unreasonably question the child about the other parent.” It also offers templates for parenting schedules popular in Australia so you can quickly insert a schedule into your plan.
Once you agree on a parenting plan with your co-parent, you can opt to forgo court entirely, or you can formalize the plan by applying for a consent order. Consent orders have the same effect as a judicial officer’s decision after a trial.
Whichever path you choose, having a thorough parenting plan benefits you and your children, and we appreciate that Custody X Change simplifies the process of making one.
Another reason we like Custody X Change is because of its customizations for Australians. Once you choose your location, the app adjusts. Your parenting plan will include terminology preferred by Australian courts (like equal shared parental responsibility). Your calendar will suggest common ways to divide parenting time on the public holidays in your state or territory.
Another unique benefit of Custody X Change is that it calculates your planned parenting time for any time period. It also tracks your actual parenting time, which can be essential when the other parents doesn’t show up for changeovers as planned.
Install the app directly from the Custody X Change website. You can use it for free with some limitations. (So can your children, nanny, etc.). Subscriptions start at $97 USD a year or $17 a month.
Talking Parents is unique because of the options it offers parents who have combative or even dangerous relationships. We recommend it for parents who expect to go to family court in the future.
Premium subscribers can make video calls to their co-parent without disclosing their own phone number. Plus, these calls are automatically recorded and transcribed. Printing the transcript is an easy way to inform a lawyer or judge — and remind a co-parent — of what parents have discussed.
As a subscriber, you can also get an official record of everything you do in the app. Each document includes a code that verifies its authenticity, and neither parent can make changes. While these aren’t available by mail in Australia, they’re available in PDF format anywhere in the world. The documents get sent to your email.
U.S. users can also send payments to their co-parent through the Talking Parents app, so we hope this feature might be available in Australia someday soon.
You can use the Talking Parents website or — if you pay for a standard or premium plan — the app, which is available from major app stores. The premium subscription is $24.99 USD a month per person.
Keep in mind that unlike the other apps on this list, Talking Parents must be used by both parents. When you sign up, you enter the other parent’s contact information or send them an invitation yourself.
Need some information that relates to your circumstance?
Our Family Wizard
Our Family Wizard is another strong option for separated parents. One advantage is that it has a large team doing outreach to courts and legal professionals around the world, so your lawyer, mediator or judge may know of it. That can be helpful if you have questions about how to use the app in your situation.
One of Our Family Wizard’s best features is its journal tool. It’s slightly different from the journals Custody X Change and Talking Parents offer because it has two types of entries: check-ins and moments.
Check-ins use GPS to verify your arrival at changeovers or other places you’re supposed to be.
Moments are ideal for telling the other parent (or grandparents, etc.) what the kids did that day. You can share “moment” journal entries with anyone you want and add photos.
As with journals from other co-parenting apps, you can always keep entries private for your own reference or to prepare evidence for court.
Our Family Wizard is in app stores and starts at $144 USD a year, with more expensive packages also available. You can pay extra to add features. While this app doesn’t have a free option for parents, it does let your children and other family members have a free limited-use account.
Getting parents to use an app together is always ideal — it fosters cooperation and can help them agree more quickly. We like that when one parent pays for a WeParent account, the other gets an account for free. This can encourage a hesitant co-parent to use an app.
Keep in mind that WeParent doesn’t have as many features as other co-parenting apps. For instance, it doesn’t include a private parenting journal or a dedicated space to share your child’s information (e.g., account numbers, clothing sizes), which the apps above do. But it does have many tools that are standard in apps for separated parents, like calendars, messaging, and file storage.
Download WeParent from your app store. Subscriptions are $9.99 USD per month, $99.99 USD per year or $199.99 USD for a lifetime.
Here’s a word that co-parents everywhere will like: free. AppClose is currently free to parents, though it does charge transaction fees for sending payments through the app (e.g., to reimburse the other parent).
One especially nice feature is the ability to send information from the app to people who don’t use AppClose or who aren’t connected to you on it. Even if they deny your request to give them information, you’ll have documentation of your attempt to reach them. This can prove useful in court.
AppClose is available in the major app stores, and it currently has a 4.7 out of 5 rating in the Apple store.
Coparently is technically a website, not an app. Regardless, it’s the only co-parenting tool on this list offering a 30-day free trial. (The others listed give either a 30-day money-back guarantee or a 14-day trial.)
Coparently’s trial doesn’t even require credit card information, so it’s great for the commitment-wary parent.
If you like what you see during the trial, you can sign up at $9.99 USD a month or $99 USD a year.
Although the tool lacks a parenting journal and child information centre, it does let you track expenses (as do Custody X Change, Our Family Wizard, and AppClose).
Thinking about separation or divorce?
In Summary: Pick the right Co-Parenting app for your Family
With many options to choose from, stay focused on which co-parenting app fits your family’s situation. Talk the options over with your ex since these apps work great as tools for parent collaboration.
All of the apps mentioned here offer free trials or money-back guarantees, so don’t be afraid to test them out.
You can even use more than one app if that’s what works best for you. You may want, for example, to use Custody X Change to create a parenting plan early on in your separation. Then you might need to use Talking Parents to transcribe calls if heated disputes arise.
If you love a tool but wish it had a different feature, reach out to the app creator through their app or website. Many of these are small companies whose leaders got into the business because they care about healthy parenting, so you’ll likely find that they’re responsive and helpful.
Have you updated your Will after separation? Here’s why you should:
What Should You Do Now?
At Mediations Australia, we have a team of family lawyers and mediators who can assist you in Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and all other locations in Australia. We also do international family law matters.