Issues Winter Edition 2023

Let’s talk about Parenting Apps

Some judges are starting to mandate the use of post-separation parenting apps as the primary mode of communication in high-conflict cases.

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From the Editor

Co-parenting refers to a parental relationship that features frequent communication and cooperation as separated parents work together to raise their children. This may entail having similar rules and routines in each household, sharing information about upcoming events and consulting with one another to make decisions regarding the children.

Co-parenting Apps have been around for a number of years and are gaining popularity with separated couples and family law professionals alike. There are an abundance of Post Separation Parenting Smartphone Apps to choose from, some are free and others require a paid subscription.

In high conflict cases where parents struggle with communication, parallel parenting may be a preferred option. Each parent establishes their own rules, routines and parenting techniques for when the children are with them and communication between the parents is limited to only that which is absolutely necessary. Using an App together with a tailored digital communication protocol that details how the App is to be used, can prove very helpful under these circumstances.

In situations where a parent is required to provide an update about the children’s progress or to seek input from the other parent prior to making important decisions, the App provides a pathway to meeting these requirements. Most Apps have a read receipt and it is easy to see when a message has been sent and if it has been read. For parents who have safety concerns, using a designated App for all communication can help with setting boundaries and possibly reduce stress. Some Apps also permit a third party (such as a family therapist or parenting coordinator) to access the parental communication. This provides opportunities to teach conflict resolution and effective communication skills. It also allows these professionals to identify coercive or controlling behaviour and to respond to it immediately, as opposed to allowing a parent to use the App in an abusive manner.

 In this  Winter edition of Issues, Bruce Smyth and his colleagues have put together a primer for family law professionals based on what current research has revealed about the pros and cons of using a Post Separation Parenting App.


Professor Bruce M. Smyth

Professor Jason L. Payne

Michelle Irving

Dr Genevieve Heard

Dr Glenn Althor


Post-Separation Parenting Smartphone Apps
Post-Separation Parenting Smartphone Apps: A primer for family law professionals*
Post-Separation Parenting Smartphone Apps are being mandated by some judges as the primary mode of communication...

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