Background

Conflict, scheduling, and access to legal information

Our research suggests, issues of co-parenting can be categorized into three categories 

Conflict: Divorce and co-parenting are high-conflict situations for all of the parties involved. Co-parenting becomes difficult when, even after a court order, there is a lack of communication, too much of it, or the communication itself is simply dysfunctional. This can affect everyday life for not only the spouses but the children as well. Results from the focus group conducted involving divorced mothers showed one of the primary concerns to be resolving conflict that results from communication. The hopes for legal applications for co-parenting would be to stream-line, mediate, and reduce the amount of communication. This would reduce conflict which adds unnecessary stress on both parties and was seen to be in the best interests of the child. The ability to “tone-check”, give templates for communication, as well as the ability to delay receiving responses were all identified as potential solutions.

Scheduling: Scheduling is an integral part of co-parenting. Courts will issue various orders for co-parenting and fulfilling these orders isn’t necessarily as simple as it seems. When it is decided which parent gets the child and when, on top of this, there has to be scheduling of sports games, activities, vacations, work schedules, and much more. Currently, what seems to be used most for scheduling purposes are Google Suite and Outlook. Google Suite has calendar capabilities which are slightly more versatile than Outlook, but not necessarily more user friendly. Google allows for calendars to be made, layer upon layer, with certain layers being made invisible and or unalterable for certain users. Outlook doesn’t have this capability. The issue with using these public spaces for this kind of scheduling are privacy issues which Google does address, but it is not specifically for the purpose of co-parenting. For a service like Outlook, from the results of the focus group, it was not uncommon for mothers to be using their Outlook predominantly for their work schedule and did not want their ex-spouse seeing their schedule that did not have anything to do with their child. An app which has a calendar system to address these privacy concerns and scheduling conflicts is desirable and would help to facilitate less stressful communication between parents

Legal Information: Legal information is not a topic of everyday conversation, and with an issue as complex as divorce, it is not simple to find information, nor is it easy to figure out where to find it in the first place. The hope for this research is to demystify the intricate legal rules and information on divorce and co-parenting for those who find themselves struggling to identify and apply it. To remedy this, we seek to organize legal information and provide access to legal documents and resources which take time and effort to find on ones own. A potential for the app would be an electronic option for documents depository which, at present, requires physically going into the court room. General questions on divorce and co-parenting regarding the law, Ontario specific legal information, or access to this information, could be answered and addressed easily.


Research Team

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rebecca Bromwich, Carleton University Department of Law and Legal Studies

Collaborators:

Dr. Matthew Bromwich, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Dr. James Green, Carleton University Department of Software Engineering

Dr. Jason Jaskolka, Carleton University Department of Software Engineering

Jennifer Reynolds, CEO, FreshLegal LLP


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