Leslie Copeland Law

Visitation

Co-Parenting Apps

Family LawLeslie Copeland

Co-parenting is not an easy task. You have to learn to emotionally separate yourself from the other parent and treat your communications like business. When do you pick up the kids? What do they need for soccer practice? Who is their guidance counselor? It’s a lot to keep up with.

What if there was “an app for that”? Just your luck, there is! A couple of apps, actually. I’d like to introduce those apps to you in this blog post in the hopes that you will find the best way for your family to communicate.

1) Google Calendar. The first app I will introduce is the simplest one of all: a shared electronic calendar. It is easy to set up and use, and it’s free. You can set up multiple calendars for different things, such as, a calendar for visitation, a calendar for doctor and dentist appointments, a calendar for school events, a calendar for extracurricular activities, and so on. Either parent can add events to the calendar, and cause a notification to be sent to the other parent so that they know what was added. Stepparents and children can also be given access to the calendar, so that everyone knows where the children are at any point in time. The children can look at the calendar and know which parent to ask about a sleepover, for example, or whose house they will be at for Christmas. Kids thrive on stability and certainty, and something as simple as a Google Calendar can provide just that.

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2) Our Family Wizard. Our Family Wizard is the creme-de-la-creme of co-parenting apps. It has everything you could want and more. Not only is there a calendar, but there is also an internal messaging app, expense tracking, medical information, school information, and note taking. Attorneys like it because it saves everything: you can easily print or send all of your communications with the other parent to your attorney if there’s a problem. You can easily track expenses and reimbursement, if someone falls behind. It even has a feature to identify and flag “emotionally charged sentences” to help prevent you from accidentally saying something that you might regret! Pretty nifty stuff. The only downside to this wonderful service is the price: $120 per year. But with that, you get excellent customer service and an excellent service. Most clients find that it is well worth the price.

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3) AppClose. AppClose is the budget version of Our Family Wizard. It has many of the same features, but none of the price, because it’s free! It also has a calendar, messager, expense tracking & reimbursement, and important information. With the expense tracking, you can log an expense in the app and request reimbursement from the other parent, who can pay through the app, instantly. From my experience, AppClose doesn’t work quite as seamlessly as Our Family Wizard. In fact, the set up can take awhile. But once it’s set up and you get the hang of it, it’s great! And at the $0 price, it’s worth a try.

 

4) Cozi Family Organizer. Cozi is an app that is used by nuclear families and non-traditional families alike. It is an easy way to organize your family’s life by use of electronic calendars, to-do lists, a family journal, and even recipes and shopping lists! It is easily shared across all of your devices. It is an upgrade from the Google Calendar, but not quite the full-fledged co-parenting app like Our Family Wizard or AppClose. If you’re like Goldilocks and want something in the middle, Cozi is a great choice for you. And once again, it’s free, unless you opt for the Cozy Gold, which has additional features.

Question: Can I move out of state due to my custody case?

Family LawLeslie Copeland
Custody state visitation arkansas

If you're reading this post, you probably have a custody or divorce case and you're likely asking 1 of 2 questions:

1: Can I move? 

or

2: Can my ex-spouse move?

In custody cases, moving away from the other parent has a serious impact on the family dynamic. But in the age we live in, it's important for people to have the freedom and flexibility to follow opportunities that may come their way. The court tries to balance these two competing interests. However, I would say that it has given slightly more weight to the second consideration. Allow me to explain.

The law in Arkansas says that a custodial parent's decision to relocate (or move) is presumed to be in the best interests of the child. It will be up to the non-custodial parent (the parent with visitation) to show otherwise. There are 5 considerations that the judge will look at:

  • (1) the reason for relocation;
  • (2) the educational, health, and leisure opportunities available in the new location;
  • (3) the visitation and communication schedule for the noncustodial parent;
  • (4) the effect of the move on the child’s extended family relationships; and
  • (5) the preference of the child, including the age, maturity, and the reasons given by the child as to his or her preference.

If a parent is moving away solely out of spite, or without any job prospects, or is just trying to take the child away from the other parent or from family, then they can probably be prevented from moving. If, however, they are moving to be with family or moving for a good job, the court will likely allow it. The judge will look at the opportunities in the new location, the prospects for visitation, the family the child is moving to or leaving behind, and in some cases, what the child wants. He or she will take all of these things, and more, in consideration in order to determine if the move is in the child's best interest, and what the new visitation schedule should be.

Note: If you have joint custody and are wanting to move, it's a whole new ballgame, buddy. You better get in to see me.

If you want to relocate, or you would like to prevent your spouse from relocating, a good attorney can make a big difference. Call Leslie today for a consultation to discuss your particular situation.

Can I Get Grandparent Visitation in Arkansas?

Family LawLeslie Copeland
Grandparent Visitation

Grandparent visitation is a thing. If you are a grandparent and your grandkids are being withheld from you, then you may have a legal avenue to enforce your right to see your grandkids and have a relationship with them. However, there are some complicated requirements to get there.

First, in order to petition for grandparent visitation, you have to be a grandparent or great-grandparent to the child, and the relationship of the child's parents has to have been severed by death, divorce or separation.

Second, if the custodial parent is withholding visitation from you, then the law presumes that what they are doing is in the child's best interests. It is up to you, the grandparent, to overcome that presumption.

You have to show two primary things: that you have had a significant relationship with the child, and that visitation with you is in the child's best interests. Here's how you do that: 

  1. To show that you have had a significant relationship with the child, you have to show one of these three things: that the child lived with you without the custodial parent for at least six months; that you were the regular caregiver to the child for at least six months; or, that you had regular or frequent contact with the child for at least 12 months.
  2. To show that visitation with you is in the child's best interests, you must show that you have the capacity to give the child love, affection and guidance; that the loss of their relationship with you will be harmful to them; and that you are willing to cooperate with the custodial parent if visitation is allowed.

As an example, let's say you are the paternal grandparent of little Grace. Before her dad passed away, you saw Grace all the time. You babysat her, picked her up from preschool, took her to the zoo, and participated in holidays with her. You love her very much. But since her dad passed away, you don't see her much anymore. In fact, her mother has decided that you remind her too much of Grace's dad and she doesn't want you to see Grace at all. You are devastated, and after months of asking to see her and being denied, you finally decide it's time to talk to a lawyer.

Your lawyer (me) helps you file a petition for grandparent visitation. You show that you have a significant relationship with Grace because you had frequent contact with her for over a year. You state that the relationship of her parents was severed by her dad's death. You prove to the judge that you can give Grace love, affection and guidance, and that the loss of her relationship with you will harm her in the long run. But you agree that you will work with her mother if visitation is allowed. In this case, your petition is likely to be granted.

A significant case came down in 2015 called Drinkwitz v. Drinkwitz that illustrates how complicated some of these factors can be. In that case, the grandparents had seen the grandchildren quite a bit before the parents' divorce. After the divorce, they saw them less but the mother still allowed them to see the children. They sued for visitation because they wanted a specific schedule that would guarantee them a minimum about of time with the kids. The court held that grandparent visitation was not appropriate in this situation because the mother was still allowing them to see the grandchildren. You have to have each and every factor required

Grandparent visitation can be even more complicated than your average custody case. If you are a grandparent who would like to enforce your right to visitation, schedule a consultation with Leslie so that she can assess your specific situation.