In contentious custody and visitation matters, the court may order parties to use a third party messaging application or other software to track their correspondence. When evidence has shown high conflict and issues of communication between parents, it’s easier for the court to determine fault for problems when the evidence is clear. Introducing text messages, phone records, and voice recordings or videos into evidence may create additional complications for the court.
In these cases, the judge can recommend or instruct the parties to use third party software. Some services require a subscription, while others are offered for free. Some frequently used options include Talking Parents, Our Family Wizard, and 2 Houses. The costs and features of each application will differ, so it’s important for parties to understand the needs of their case before selecting an application.
Talking Parents: This application allows parties to record text, email, and phone call communications with one another in an un-alterable format. It offers a shared calendar for parties to clarify custodial time and children’s events. It also offers anonymity for phone numbers where necessary.
Our Family Wizard: This application allows for text, email, calendaring, and expense reimbursements. This application allows for attorney users to have access to their client’s communications, making them ready accessible for court or other legal matters as they arise. Our family wizard has been in use in the domestic relations courts since 2001, so most judges are familiar with the formatting and information provided.
2 Houses: This application provides calendaring, expense management, and journaling. The journal feature allows parents to share notes, photos, and videos in one place.
In the event of a future dispute, each party can download the complete time-stamped record of communications from the application and introduce the records into evidence. The court can easily see what messages were sent and when, rather than combing through screenshots or even fraudulent records to try to find the truth.
In cases that are not highly contentious, use of these applications can still be beneficial. Having a shared calendar and open communication will help parents to document conversations regarding legal decisionmaking and more mundane tasks such as when each parent will drop-off/pick-up the child.
If you are facing a contentious custody and visitation case, our firm may be able to help. Our litigation team has handled matters across Virginia and is ready to represent you. Contact our office in northern Virginia at 703-995-9900 or Virginia Beach 757-296-0580, or visit our website www.melonehatley.com.