By: Soberlink, AAML NJ Gold Sponsor
Family Law professionals know that going through a divorce is often an emotional time. With 10% of children living with a parent who abuses alcohol, it is common for substance abuse allegations to arise in court. For kids, this can mean unsafe parenting environments, and for concerned parties, this can result in increased anxiety around adhering to specific child custody parameters. No matter the case, as you help your clients navigate the details of their co-parenting agreement, it’s important to keep the child’s best interests at the center of each decision.
Fortunately for counsel and co-parents, various apps and tools are designed to help litigants and their representatives stay organized, streamline litigation, and minimize the friction between parties.
Practitioners are aware that families tend to communicate in nuanced ways, whether that's by phone, text, or e-mail, but sometimes that isn't enough for parents to achieve peace of mind their child is with a sober parent.
"Hostility makes co-parents work against, rather than with, each other: sometimes, they use the kids as messengers, or they withhold support or visitation to punish the other parent. Rather than being a focused parent who acts for the kids’ sake, it’s really a way of excusing yourself from your co-parenting responsibilities," says Jeffrey Cottrill in an article for Divorce Magazine.
Many apps exist designed to help clients maintain their co-parenting relationship, allowing parents, and sometimes counsel, to sync up in a united digital space. As a litigator, you may already be familiar with:
- OurFamilyWizard — a tone meter that allows co-parents to make sure you are communicating what you're feeling
- 2Houses — an app that offers messaging and mediator access well as document storage
- Coparently — an online directory offering contact storage and printable records for shared expenses
Remote Alcohol Monitoring
Suppose custody and alcohol are present in your case. In that case, incorporating technology like a remote alcohol monitoring system may be an excellent solution to streamline custody, support professionals, and offer concerned parties peace of mind.
Soberlink ensures child safety by providing a reliable tool to document proof of sobriety in real-time. A favorite amongst Family Law professionals, the comprehensive system combines wireless technology with facial recognition, tamper detection, and Advanced Reporting to ensure the integrity of each test and allow swift intervention should a drinking event occur. With Soberlink, counsel can work in conjunction with the ex-spouses to determine custom testing times, receive text alerts, and set up automated reporting options to track an individual’s progress. Further, Soberlink can provide monitored clients with a sense of accomplishment while reassuring counsel and concerned parties the children are safe and with a sober parent.
While Soberlink can help substantiate alcohol abuse claims in court, it can also help dispel false allegations. Using a universal color method, green for Compliant, yellow for Missed, and red for Non-Compliant, the system’s court-admissible reporting makes it easy for Family Law professionals to track client progress and present factual data to the court. Daily, weekly, or monthly client-detail reports provide a comprehensive snapshot of either the presence or absence of a parent’s alcohol abuse.
There can be many details in a child's life, and scheduling apps help keep that all in one place. Various apps designed explicitly for co-parenting communication already offer these features. Still, additional scheduling apps exist if concerned parties or counsel find that a simple calendar works best.
Scheduling apps allow families to keep to-do lists, photos, and recipes on hand with minimal stress. As a bonus, co-parents can also share their schedule with a Family Law professional, babysitter, grandparent, or anyone else who may want to be kept a brief of childcare responsibilities.
During litigation, both parties must have the documents they need to take care of their child's wellbeing. One way to help ensure this is to make sure that both co-parents have access to all of the child's essential records.
While there may be plenty of occasions where one parent or another may need a copy of the child's birth certificate, this can also be useful in communicating information about school projects or health care decisions, especially when a joint decision is required.
Ensuring all the documents required by each co-parent are accessible may keep minor disputes from ending up in court. A variety of cloud systems are available through co-parenting apps and more traditional cloud-based storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
There may come a time when one of the co-parents can't physically be in the child's life. This could happen due to travel or an illness, and the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced more considerations to this list.
In New York and surrounding areas, shelter-in-place orders might make it harder for some families to adhere to their visitation schedules. Some homes may have unique characteristics that make it a more suitable environment for home confinement, such as a better internet connection for school, a private room, or less risk of exposure depending on the jobs both parents work during the pandemic.
However, the isolation caused by COVID-19 is not meant that the parent should be out of the loop completely. Video chat platforms help make it easy to schedule regular calls with the parent who can't physically be present until they can once again.
Incorporating these calls into a parenting plan is essential to maintaining the parent-child relationship, whether the cause of the separation is a pandemic or travel.
Much like their litigating parents, practitioners, too, want what’s best for the child. Child custody litigation can be long and tedious, but spending some time thinking about communication expectations can help mitigate the significant discord that could further complicate matters in court. In instances of alcohol abuse, remote alcohol monitoring systems like Soberlink can help rebuild trust, streamline custody, and help keep the best interests of the child front and center throughout litigation. Trust the Experts in Remote Alcohol Monitoring Technology in your next custody case and end the tireless he-said-she-said disputes.