Divorced Couples Forced to Co-Parent Online - NBC4 Washington

Divorced Couples Forced to Co-Parent Online

Online software aids in post-divorce co-parenting



    In southern Maryland and other jurisdictions, divorced couples have been ordered to co-parent using online software. News4's Angie Goff spoke with working mom Kelly Collis about her experience with the internet-based parenting technology. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012)

    For working mom Kelly Collis, life after divorce was no walk in the park. It was chaotic, she said, and being a high-conflict relationship made things a lot more challenging.

    Collis, like many divorcees, found co-parenting complicated, which could be why more courts are turning to the Internet to help, ordering  parents like Collis and her ex-husband to use online software to keep the peace after the split.

    At one point, the emails between Collis and her ex were getting nasty, she said, and taking the issues online calmed that down.

    Maryland Circuit Court Judge Marvin Kaminetz mandated the use of online technology in his divorce cases.

    "The technology is there, why should we not use it to benefit children?" he said.

    Judge Kaminetz said online software like Our Family Wizard takes the mystery out of the process. Kaminetz says.

    "There's a chance that a judge may get to see what they have said to each other," he said. "When they used to come to court and say he-said, she-said, now it's right there in black and white."

    Kaminetz is one of many judges in southern Maryland using online tools. Divorce mediator Katy Erly said it’s a growing trend that’s keeping families out of the courtroom. She added  at least 44 states and the District of Columbia have courts forcing co-parenting online.

    One of these programs, Childsharing.com, said it has seen a 30 percent increase in demand for services in the past six months.

    Collis, who was ordered by a D.C. court to use Our Family Wizard, has found success with the whole family. Her son uses it to see what days he’ll spend at Mom’s or Dad’s.

    It records everything from the calendar, vaccinations and the always tricky money matters, Collis said. A new iPhone app makes co-parenting available on the go.

    Our Family Wizard costs about $100 per parent for a year. Childsharing.com classes start about $40.