Monday, December 14, 2009

Parenting Time: Idea on Scheduling Times for Visitation

Brian Galbraith of Ontario Family Law Blog has an idea that I have never seen before and I like the more I think about it.  The usual suggestion is for parents to get a calendar to keep track of problems about visitation.  Mr. Galbraith puts forth something more positive in his Scheduling Events When Divorced .  I see this as a very good means for parents to comply with Section I. E. of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines on exchanging information.  (You may also want to go back and read my Parenting Time - An Online Help For Parents).

For many years, I have encouraged clients whose separation is fresh and raw to use a communication book. One of the parents purchases a blank book which is used to discuss any proposed changes to the access schedule, illnesses of the children, milestones, accomplishments, discipline problems and upcoming events in the children's lives. I encourage the parents to decorate the book with photos of the children on the outside of the book (to remind the parents to stay focused on their children's best interests) and to plan on giving the book to their children when they are adults (to encourage the parents to treat each other respectfully and politely in the book since their children will read it one day).
Yes, it still can be used for litigation purposes but my understanding is that it is not its chief purpose.  I see this being used to inform the other parent of all events the child is involved in - think Little League as well as Christmas concerts.
Whether you use the old fashioned communication book, Our Family Wizard, Google Calendar, emails, meetings or phone calls, find a way to communicate respectfully and in a timely manner. If you don't make an effort, your children will suffer. Your children deserve parents who will put aside their own personal feelings toward each other and find a way to communicate with each other, for the children's sake... and you don't want to miss another Christmas concert!

He also provides two online solutions with Google Calendar being the second option.
A free option is Google Calendar. It does not have all the bells and whistles of "Our Family Wizard" because it isn't designed for separated families, but it is free. A calendar is set up over the Internet with access restricted to you and your spouse or third parties agreeable to the parents. It's private and available wherever you can access the Internet. You can post upcoming events on the calendar such as the next hockey tournament or dance recital so everyone knows about it in advance.
Online services do provide the means to communicate in ASAP mode. I think Zoho has some services that might also apply.  Other online services might be found by using Google. 

The thing is to get started.

So a new idea for my practice and one that others should - I think - take very seriously.


Brian Galbraith said...


As you know, communication is key to effective parenting post separation. It isn't easy to do especially when there is a lot of lingering pain associated with the separation, but it is essential. I hope these tools will help your clients and families everywhere.

Brian Galbraith

Sam Hasler said...

Communication is always the key. I just never thought of this - inertia is the greatest force and all that. In fact, I do not know of anyone else who does anything like this. I think it is absolutely brilliant.