July 2015 Bar Bulletin
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July 2015 Bar Bulletin

Peace at Home: OurFamilyWizard Lessens Parenting Disputes

By Matt Havrevold

 

For co-parents who are prone to conflict, long email exchanges and vague text messages often create ambiguity or miscommunication, and make admissible records difficult for counsel to compile. As a result, courts routinely order parent communication on the OurFamilyWizard (OFW) website in cases spanning all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five Canadian provinces. OFW is even ordered in domestic violence cases to keep parents informed while reducing opportunities for coercive control and harassment.

Lower courts' orders for communication with OFW are regularly upheld. In a sealed 2011 opinion, Hon. Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio of Montgomery County, Pa., wrote:

(Our)FamilyWizard is utilized by courts in cases involving litigious parents whose credibility is lacking and who are unable to communicate with each other. The tool protects each party against trivial or false contempt petitions by preserving evidence ... [and] it facilitates communication between the parties in a non-hostile, non-confrontation, non-intrusive, monitored format.... The tool is objective and applies equally to each party.

Now in its 14th year, OFW has helped more than 100,000 families maintain more amicable communication using secure mobile and web-based features for parents to communicate in a simple, well-documented and highly organized manner. Along with their legal or mental health practitioners, co-parents are linked together to share information using these main features:

  • Free professional accounts give practitioners access to simple court-ready printouts.
  • Text and email notifications keep parents and professionals up to date on new activity.
  • A calendar equipped with patented parenting time modification requests, easy-to-use parenting schedules and protected journal entries for both parents.
  • A message board that documents when messages are read by recipients for the first time. Tonemeter provides feedback that helps parents be mindful of their messages' tone, and gives the author a chance to reframe a message before hitting send.
  • An information bank where parents store vital medical records, insurance information, emergency contacts, school work and more.
  • An expense log where parents make reimbursements and requests for unreimbursed medical expenses, child support and other parenting expenses. Expenses and payments are easily categorized and reconciled. A parent's banking information is not shared with the co-parent.
  • Children, grandparents and other family members also can be included in the conversation with limited access to the calendar, journal and messages.

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