With news that a government-backed app to help separating couples successfully negotiate the transition in co-parenting their children is currently being piloted, professionals are asking if managing a family through the use of technology is an effective solution to an age-old problem? Rabbia Khan from Dutton Gregory’s Family Team thinks so…
Relationship experts at Marriage and Partnership research charity, OnePlusOne, have developed a new app to assist parents who are ending their relationship. Named ‘Separating Better’, the app has been funded by the Department for Work and Pensions’ ‘Reducing Parental Conflict Challenge Fund’ and aims to provide guides to parents on the separation process, effective ways of co-parenting and ways to sort out disagreements.
It benefits from a tool called the Emotional Adaptation to Relationship Dissolution Assessment (EARDA) which measures emotional readiness and helps identify the level of support that parents need at various stages.
“Separation and divorce are highly emotionally charged situations that the majority of couples have no experience of, and so are unprepared for the physical, emotional and financial effects on both themselves and family members, especially children,” explains Rabbia.
“Due to hurt, disappointment, anger or many other negative emotions, many parents find it very difficult to manage their disagreements in a productive and calm way. The worst scenario is a bitter battle of words and upset played out in front of children who still love both their parents.”
Apps that currently exist on the market are aimed towards the logistical side of co-parenting, for example they allow parents to have a shared calendar (Cozi), logging communications between parents (Talking Parents) or organising the parenting schedule so the parents know where children will be week-to-week (2Houses). One of the most commonly used in Court is ‘Our Family Wizard’.
“Whilst these apps can be very useful, and may allow limited use for free, they are businesses requiring payment for their product which can be out of reach for parents who now find themselves on a reduced budget,” explains Rabbia. “The huge news about Separating Better is that it is a free app, so accessible to everyone.”
Separating Better provides practical tools to assist parents in co-parenting and dealing with disagreements using the ‘Emotional Readiness Quiz’ which helps an individual identify their mental state guiding them to the correct level of support.
The app also allows users to track their personal progress and use live-chat with experts at National Family Mediation to help reach agreements and settlements that will reduce pressures on the Family Court System. Currently it is being trialled in the Isle of Wight to be made available nationally in March.
“I think practitioners and professionals should encourage separating and/or divorcing parents to use this app,” concludes Rabbia. “For some it could prove an invaluable tool to help ease the separation and/or divorce process for both a couple and their children.”