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Tips for effectively communicating with your co-parent

If you're sharing custody of your children as a newly separated or divorced parent, learning how to communicate effectively with your co-parent can be a challenge. It can be difficult not to let residual feelings of anger, betrayal and just plain old frustration get in the way of what's best for your kids.

Often, less communication is best -- or at least less personal communication. Fortunately, there are a number of co-parenting apps and software programs that provide tools to allow parents to keep each other informed without having to text, email or talk regularly. These tools may include shared calendars, expense logs, message boards and journals.

You may also be able to save important information like insurance policies, your parenting plan and doctor and other emergency addresses and phone numbers. This way, you don't have to contact your co-parent when you need this information.

Of course, there will be times when you need to text or email your co-parent directly. When you do, it's important to stick to the topic and not veer off in to other areas -- whether it's something that happened in the past or an issue you're dealing with currently.

It's essential to be careful of your tone. That's just as crucial when you're communicating in writing as when you're talking on the phone or face-to-face.

The person writing the message needs to be careful not to include emotionally charged words or phrases. Meanwhile, the person receiving the message needs to be careful not to read too much in to it -- and not to respond in anger. One co-parenting app, OurFamilyWizard, even has something called a ToneMeter that checks messages for potentially triggering words and phrases before the message is sent.

If you think that a co-parenting app would help your communication with your former spouse or partner but they're resistant to the idea, you may want to talk with your attorney about adding a requirement to use one to your parenting plan. You may also be able to include other provisions about when and how the two of you communicate about your kids. This can help parenting across two households go much more smoothly for everyone.

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