Will new online co-parenting software keep parents out of jail?
In the last few months, we have seen a few high profile examples of how adversarial breakup can lead to losing £900,000 – and even lead to a prison sentence.
The relationship between poor communication and adversarial divorce is universally acknowledged, and this makes the launch in the UK of the Kids On Time co-parenting online application particularly timely. Kids On Time is being supported by Alternative Divorce Guide Suzy Miller, and shared by national UK charities such as Families Need Fathers, because it provides a range of online resources to help separated parents manage care of their children.
These tools can help the child’s parents communicate more effectively by managing schedules, contacts, events and much more online. These can be particularly effective if the parents find face-to-face communication difficult to manage.
The recent Channel 4 programme Dispatches highlighted the forthcoming changes to family law and how the courts in this country are going to deal with parental disputes which effect the children. The damage to the children is often not evident till later on in their lives, but the damage to the parents can be all too obvious.
Chris Huhne and Vicky Price turned an acrimonious breakup into a national spectacle, ending in imprisonment for them both. Angry architect Andrew McGarry expressed his bitterness over his divorce by driving his car into the matrimonial home and setting fire to it – whilst his six year old was inside watching TV.
Mr and Mrs Kavanagh, both lawyers, managed to squander their £3,000,000 fortune in disputes about their three children and the financial aspects of their separation. Whilst married for just 10 years, they then spent 5 years litigating and their combined legal costs were said to be £900,000.
The creators of the Kids On Time resource, Joe and Anne Sleeman – who themselves are co-parents – are visiting the UK to talk with divorce mediators, collaborative lawyers and divorce coaches about how they can use the Kids On Time application (KOT) to facilitate a less adversarial divorce. They will be attending the Alternative Divorce Guide networking event in The Strand on Thursday 21 March, and they are keen to meet up with other professionals who would like to know more about how KOT can help reduce conflict by making communication easier for co-parents.
In a survey commissioned by Resolution in August 2012, 45% of Respondents thought “most divorces involve a visit to Court” and 40% agreed with the statement that “divorces can never be without conflict”. The vast majority agreed that children’s interests should come first.
Families Need Fathers is a non-profit social care organization, which helps parents and children whose relationships are under threat. They are the only national organization, in the UK, who provides information, advice and support services to parents. Ken Sanderson, CEO of Families Need Fathers, London, commented, “We hope that this innovative resource will support separating parents to maintain communication with each other, and to focus on the best interests of their children as they develop effective co-parenting arrangements for the future.”
The creator of Divorce in a Box, Suzy Miller, whose product is a travel guide to avoiding adversarial lawyers, saving money and protecting the kids (http://www.sosdivorceinabox.com), is excited about the launch of Kids On Time in the UK. “There was immediately such synchronicity with the values and aims of Kids On Time, and with my own mission to provide practical tools to families wanting to co-parent effectively. If technology can help parents to better communicate, then they should take advantage of that, for the sake of their children as well as for their own peace of mind. Children are often the silent victims of family breakup, and one way to change that is for parents to find new ways to communicate with respect and with confidence. Kids On Time provides a tool box of online resources that parents can use effectively, even if they are in the midst of a difficult family breakup.”
Suzy Miller is hoping many parents will take advantage of the two week free trial being offered through Families Need Fathers, and that the money manager, private messenger, shared family calendar, and other useful applications will prove of great benefit.
What Suzy Miller is most concerned about is how adversarial divorce seems to be seen as inevitable or ‘normal’ in our current culture. “My mission is to make adversarial divorce as socially unacceptable as smoking in Church” states Suzy. “And if online applications like Kids On Time can support that cultural shift, then that has to be a good thing for families and children everywhere.”
Suzy will be encouraging some of her Divorce in a Box experts to join in with discussions in the Divorce Online forum, so that they can offer useful advice and guidance to divorcing individuals seeking help.
Andrew McGarry : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9847660/Architect-facing-bitter-divorce-battle-crashed-car-into-matrimonial-home.html
C4 Despatches: http://blog.raydensolicitors.co.uk/legal-news/contact-disputes-a-response-to-channel-4s-dispatches-programme/
Vicky Price & Chris Huhne: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/13/chris-huhne-vicky-price-sentences-lenient