Lexis Nexis Chambers of the Year 2024

In 2009, Apple coined the phrase “there’s an app for that” when launching the iPhone 3G. Fast forward fifteen years and there truly is indeed, an app for everything. These days, you can manage your internet banking, watch TV, and even book flights to the other side of the world all from a smartphone in the palm of your hand. 

There’s even a number of applications to help separated parents with co-parenting and to communicate with each other in respect of their children. The use of “parenting apps” is something which is now becoming encouraged by professionals as we continue to embrace and accept living in a more digital society. 

The parenting app which I tend to come across most during my practice is Our Family Wizard. Of course as the BBC would say, “other alternatives are available”. 

What’s so good about parenting apps? 

The benefit of parenting apps is that they are designed to provide a neutral platform in which to discuss arrangements relating to children. Parenting apps are designed with the intention of removing and preventing any animosity between parents and ensuring that conversations are and remain child focused. Some apps even utilise artificial intelligence to ensure that messages between parents are not aggressive or insulting towards the other. 

Parenting apps also tend to have features designed to make each parent’s lives easier. These include features such a joint calendar helping parents diarise activities which the other parent should be aware about such as medical appointments, social events, or after-school clubs.  

The benefit of a joint calendar on each parent’s phone means that adjustments to the usual arrangements can be made flexibly to suit each parent, and most importantly the children who are at the centre of the arrangements. 

Others even include the ability to send documents such as school reports and medical letters to allow both parents to keep each other in the loop about a child’s education, health, and well-being. 

Who can sign up to a parenting app?  

Obviously the apps are designed to be used by the parents, but some apps allow you to add other people such as grandparents or step-parents who may take an active role in the child’s life or assist with things such as handovers or collections from school. 

Additionally, some apps also allow professionals such as social workers or CAFCASS officers to have a “professional” account to monitor things where a child may be subject to Local Authority involvement such as a Child In Need plan. 

Does it cost to use a parenting app? 

It depends. With so many parenting apps on the market there’s plenty of choice. Some charge an annual subscription, whereas other are free to use. Some apps such as OurFamilyWizard will even see if a parent qualifies for a free/reduced subscription if they parent completes a financial form detailing their income and outgoings. 

 Whilst some lawyers may recommend a specific parenting app, it never hurts to do some research and shop around to consider the best options available. 

Can the Court order the use of a parenting app? 

Yes, the use of a parenting app can be something which ordered by the Court as an activity arrangement to any child arrangements order pursuant to section 11(7) of the Children Act 1989. 

However, every family and their circumstances are different. Some parents are able to liaise and communicate directly without the need for a parenting app, whereas others may find that it’s a beneficial tool in the early days of co-parenting under a shared care order. 

Written by Adam Singh Hayer, Consultant Barrister.

Law is correct as of 22nd April 2024. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. Readers are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon for this purpose. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein. 

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Lexis Nexis Chambers of the Year 2024

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