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Digital coparenting involves unique challenges

Divorced parents typically have a parenting plan that dictates a daily, weekly, and yearly schedules for visitation and fulfilling obligations. In recent but pre-COVID times, there was likely communication between parents on smartphones, computers, or some other predetermined digital method.

There are advantages to this kind of communication. Some believe that there is less potential for conflict or tension, and it documents all arrangements in writing. It may even be less intrusive than phone calls or face-to-face visits and convenient for ongoing communication. For parents of teens, digital communication is likely the only standard method for communicating.

There may also be health concerns related to COVID as well -- it may be a matter of a parent who is at risk due to a preexisting condition, or it could be a situation where their job puts them at a greater risk for contracting the virus. So, minimizing contact between family members may be desired.

It can still be tricky

It can take some time for a co-parenting partnership to find its footing. Early on in the process, the parents need to see what works and do not work for them and then make adjustments. Now in the time of COVID, parents find that they are even more reliant on these mediums. This is a blessing, but there are potential challenges as well:

  • Miscommunication: It can be hard to interpret the nuance or tone of a text or email. An ex or child may misinterpret the message as aggressive or insensitive.
  • Too easy to communicate: Couples split for a reason, and the ease of communication may make it hard to create the necessary distance. Too much communication can add stress to an already strained relationship.
  • Creating distance: Perhaps one parent is trying to create some distance by not being available all the time. It can lead to frustration among parents or even children.

Always a work in progress

A functioning coparenting partnership is essential to raising happy and loved children. It also makes the job of raising those children less stressful. In COVID times and the years to follow, effective digital communication is necessary for the family unit. They may have to change formats as time passes or set some ground rules. Parenting plans can provide a starting point, even regarding digital communication. Knowledgeable family law attorneys can help draft an initial plan or help the coparents modify their plan at a later date.

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