Online Dispute Resolution and OFW

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For parents raising children in separate homes, it's not uncommon to run into occasional hiccups or pitfalls. Yet no matter how frequent, facing any dispute can be quite a challenge if communication is already strained. Diving head-first into conflicts without a clear path to navigate and resolve them can take parents' focus away from the things that truly deserve their attention, yet bringing every little issue to court isn't a sustainable option, either. That's where ODR comes in.

Benefits of ODR

Online Dispute Resolution, or ODR, helps co-parents work towards resolving disputes on their own using web-based resources. The right tools for ODR can make it easier to face daily parenting matters that might have otherwise quickly escalated into larger issues. Utilizing ODR strategies can lessen the need for legal intervention and empower parents to mitigate day-to-day disputes entirely on their own. The lasting benefits can save parents money, time, and energy, enabling them to focus more on their children.

While ODR offers a number of perks to co-parents, it also offers certain advantages to family law practitioners. Instead of sifting through dozens of email cc's or forwards from clients, communication contained in a platform designed for ODR stays organised and accessible from one central location.

ODR tools that permit access for practitioners make it simple for those working with a family to not only report on parents' progress in reaching resolutions but to also assist in negotiations whenever help is required. For neutral third parties like mediators, being able to hop online and work with both parents right away eliminates time spent waiting on information or scheduling meetings, streamlining the process for actually reaching agreements.

ODR on OFW

ODR might be a new term for some, but resolving disputes online is nothing new for co-parents or their practitioners. OurFamilyWizard has been offering effective ODR tools to parents since 2001. Built with features specifically designed to help co-parents reduce conflict and reach decisions on their own, OurFamilyWizard makes it simple for families to handle their own matters in real time.

Time-sensitive negotiations made simple on OFW

Schedule Modifications

Some of the issues that co-parents face on a daily basis are time-sensitive, like parenting time modifications. The OFW calendar offers a patented time modification tool which parents use to make requests for one-time changes in the parenting schedule. A parent will simply enter the dates in question plus a brief reason for the swap. The other parent is then prompted to consider to the request before the deadline, cueing them to provide a timely response.

If approved, the calendar will adjust according to the request. If the other parent doesn't completely agree with the suggested time swap, they have an opportunity to propose a counteroffer to the original request. Straightforward requests and responses give parents more confidence to make change proposals. Plus, clear histories of every request leave no questions for parents or practitioners about what the schedule was or why a change occurred.

Expense Reimbursements

Money can be a huge point of contention between divorced or separated parents, yet expenses related to a child's healthcare, schooling, or basic necessities should be faced in a timely manner.

On OFW, parents use the expense register to log shared parenting costs and request reimbursements. Each expense documents the total amount and uses a selected category to break down how much each parent is responsible for paying. Parents don't have to wait to get home to do this, either; using the OFW mobile app, a parent can enter these details and snap a photo of the expense receipt and upload it for the other parent to view immediately.

Like with parenting time modification requests, the other parent is cued to address reimbursement requests with a response. Once submitted, the co-parent can view and respond to the expense. Expense reports allow parents to see an overview of all requests, reimbursements, and items that still need to be paid between parents. Access to clear details makes it simple for parents and lawyers to resolve disputed expenses inside OFW or bring straightforward histories to court if necessary.

Professional Access on OFW

Since its inception, OFW has provided family law and mental health practitioners with access to connect with their clients to view and work together to resolve disputes online. Using one account, Professional Access on OFW allows a practitioner to link with one or both parents in just one family or several. Access to one parent in a family lets the practitioner oversee activity via the viewpoint of that parent; access to both parents in a family allows the practitioner to not only oversee activity via both parents' viewpoints but also to set up entries for parents and create reports on family activity.

OFW Professional Access is always free and available for practitioners to use whenever it’s needed. A practitioner may work closely with a family on OFW for a period of time then remain connected only to assist parents when necessary. On the other hand, a practitioner may link up with a family well into their time on OFW to view all past and present activity. 

Parent coordinators, GALs, and other practitioners working with an entire family can use Professional Access to propose modifications as well as communicate with parents about the requests they send between each other. Printouts and reports of client activity are easily accessible to practitioners, eliminating the need to wait on clients for information or be cc'd on client emails and texts. 

Though ODR is still growing in its popularity, it's nothing new to OFW. It has been ordered in the United Kingdom and is routinely ordered across the United States and six Canadian provinces. The reason why is simple: OFW helps to reduce co-parenting conflict and helps parent reach decisions on their own. Take a positive step towards moving your family—or your clients—forward by trying OFW for yourself.