There really is an app for everything. To minimize court time and promote healthy communication between separated parents, East Baton Rouge Parish family court judges are ordering families to use co-parenting apps like Our Family Wizard.
The app allows parents to share their children’s schedules with one another, track expenses and send messages to one another. It’s customizable to the families needs and judges can order the parents use specific functions of the app to help minimize conflict, such as the tone monitor, which highlights demeaning and vulgar language and requires the app user to rewrite the message.
Originally developed as a computer service in 2001, Our Family Wizard is one of many programs that have entered a new co-parenting app market the past few years, where the creators are making a business out of helping families deal. Talking Parents, Coparently, Talking Parents and coParenter are other alternatives, with coParenter utilizing AI to scan for confrontational language in messages and alerting attorneys and judges if the message is sent.
“I think the biggest impact is that rational people are discouraged from having nasty, childish, angry communication because if it comes to court, we’ll see it all,” says Judge Pamela Baker, estimating she’s ordered 50 families to use the technology in the last year.
For some high conflict families, Baker orders the parents to only communicate through the app, which has plans starting at $99 per year.
Judge Charlene Day, who estimates she orders families use the app 99% of the time for contested hearings, has seen a high success rate with the app. When the app doesn’t help, it’s often because one of the parents has an undiagnosed mental illness and requires personal counseling.
“They have procreated and society left to deal with what to do with a child,” Day says, adding she usually orders families to use the app for one year. “Some are good people, but some just don’t get the whole picture. Our Family Wizard helps those people a lot.
“It’s great we have tools that weren’t available to judges 30 years ago.”