Managing Marriage’s End With a Mobile: Apps During Divorce

June 28, 2012
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“I don’t think there is a lawyer in town that you could hire where at the end of a divorce you will be saying to yourself what a great time you had.” ~ Lawyer  Michael Helfand

No one going through a divorce recommends it as a process. It can be long and drawn-out, bitter, and cost you as much as two years’ tuition at Harvard in lawyer fees.

“I don’t think there is a lawyer in town that you could hire where at the end of a divorce you will be saying to yourself what a great time you had.” ~ Lawyer  Michael Helfand

No one going through a divorce recommends it as a process. It can be long and drawn-out, bitter, and cost you as much as two years’ tuition at Harvard in lawyer fees. But there are some apps available to inform you about and streamline the process–and that may be worth a couple bucks  (given what you’re going to be paying anyway). Let’s take a look at what the market’s offering.

The Divorce Encyclopedia

This one’s name pretty much captures its essence. The Divorce Encyclopedia is, well, encyclopedic in the breadth and scope of the topics that it covers.

A plus and a minus is that, unlike other apps that compute and figure and take note, this one’s purpose is purely informational.

Its iPhone app is a searchable database that has over 1000 divorce terms explained so that any Joe can understand them–with their application to divorce–and you can search by a keyword (adultery) or a phrase (wife cheating on me) and get the same results.

According to its promo materials, it’s all about providing the information, which assumedly, will allow you to make better decision as you go through the process of the divorce.

It’s $3.99 on the  iPhone–as its promoters are quick to point out, less than the cost of 1 billable minute of your attorney’s time.

I think it’s a well-designed app, and clear in its presentation. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, it might be a good buy.

But it isn’t that I find the price exorbitant or unreasonable, in fact, that makes me question the absolute necessity of this app. It’s rather that all this information is easily accessible online for $3.99 less.  If you’re not in to high-end researching, Wikipedia can fill in a lot of the blanks for you, as accurately and as elegantly.

It comes down to two issues: the desire to  have all the information located in one discrete application, so you don’t have to go searching far and wide on Google, and the ability to have the information on your mobile–so that, should you need to find out, while waiting in line for two pears and a pint of strawberries, what ‘no-fault divorce is,’ you could, rather than having to wait to pay, drive home, and log in to the computer you’ve now passworded your wife out of.

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State-Based Child Support Calculators

One rather unpleasant topic you’ll have to contend with is what you’re going to owe your ex in child support. So there are a number of apps that take state divorce statutes into account and help you do your computations. For example, the well-known Dishon & Block Spousal and Child Support Calculator‘s job is to: “compute an estimate of child and spousal support based on California Family Code formulas.”

From one warm state to another, the North Carolina Child Support Calculator determines the amount of child support paid or received by NC families, and the SC Child Support Calculator (let’s stick to warm climates here–I’m doing no reviews of Alaska divorce apps) is “based upon the most current released version of the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.”

You probably get the picture–just beware that the South Carolina app is a whopping $9.99. They must have some pretty complicated child support guidelines down south, I’d say.

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 The Divorce Log

The Divorce Log is available both for the iPhone and the Android. The creators assert that the app’s raison d’être is that is that it was created “to make documentation easy.”

Unlike the Dishon and Carolina apps, you can get the information you need for any state in the union.

It’s free, assumedly to help you save your money for what’s in store ahead of you.

It means that instead of schlepping around a plastic sleeve with your expense receipts plus a file folder with all your correspondence, your laptop where you’ve created a nifty chart on the time you spend with your child, and a rubber-banded copy of your lawyer’s notes about your child support and alimony obligations, you just enter all that into the app, and, voila–a divorce log.

It’s also a convenient place to keep track of your ex’s texts and e-mails, often relevant as evidence in a divorce case, should this whole process end up being longer than one might have hoped.

It is $4.99–a lot in app-land–but it is worth a lot in convenience.

The downside? You actually have to enter all that information, as opposed to carrying it around piece-meal, the way you’ve been doing. Not exactly a soothing activity–but it pays off in streamlining.

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Men’s Divorce Source

If you want advice and organization techniques wound up in one nifty little application, you need look no further than Men’s Divorce Source (a sobering $7.99 for the iPhone).

This is a tour-de-force divorce informational app. It includes full PDF versions of divorce advice books “Your Civil War” and “Divorce Full Force” (which the designers claim are a combined value of $40, so you feel you’re really getting your money’s worth).

You also get:

  • Nine family law categories to browse with search and bookmarking functionality;
  • The (dubious) ability to share divorce stories on Facebook or via email (seems you could do this for free without any app, but I could hardly recommend it. It’s simplified here, should you choose to throw caution to the wind.);
  • A Family Law Reference section on a variety of divorce-related topics, like child support, child custody and alimony;
  • The ability to browse Ask a Lawyer questions answered by a divorce attorney. Here you get advice on topics as wide-ranging as finances, child support, custody, visitation, and parenting;
  • Search capacity for a men’s divorce attorney near you (I’m still going strong here. . .);
  • Divorce Goals that walk you through the different aspects of a divorce, ask you what your goal is for each issue, and then, asserts the app ad, with the full voice of confidence. . .”prepares you for your divorce” (as if anything could).
  • Finally it provides links to additional divorce resources.

It’s a pretty good package, all-told, providing a lot of information, and supposedly helping you know what you really want from your divorce–but that assumes you’ll be more honest with your mobile phone than you’ve been with your wife of 20 years, so it’s a bit iffy. It also lacks the organizational capacities that The Divorce Log so helpfully provides. In the end, although it’s more sophisticated, it’s closer to the Divorce Encyclopedia in terms of knowledge-gathering than to a real tool for structuring your life while undergoing a divorce.

And–there’s no equivalent for women. That strikes me as a complete app-injustice, so two points off for poor sportsmanship.

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iVisitation

Let’s leave off with this one, where you’re now reaping what you’ve sown as you try to make child visitation arrangements work with someone towards whom you may not be currently feeling too fondly.

Let’s just say that it’s in everybody’s best interest for you to show up to get your child at the time and on the day when you’re expected to. Failing to get yourself there leads to trouble–and excuses like, “I didn’t have an app to help me” often fall on deaf ears.

But, will your luck never cease? For now you do have an app to help you.

Fundamentally iVisitation is simply a calendar, without  a lot of fancy bells and  whistles, which means you need to do a lot of entering manually.  It will operate for any given number of children at a time, so if you’ve somehow got your oldest child on weekends, your middle on every second Wednesday of the month, and your youngest 5 days out of 7, the app can handle this disaster of a setup, by alerting you prior to your pickups well in advance, and then again as the time draws nearer.

Heather Buen from the Dallas Single Mom Examiner made some excellent points about its downsides, particularly that it’s (to me inexplicably) missing a copy and paste feature, so especially if you’re entering in rolling schedules (first 4 days with you, then 4 there, back to your 4), you’re manually entering in a whole lot of info.

Additionally, she points out, it doesn’t have a timestamp (this one is hard for me to fathom, too), so you have to manually enter all dates and times, too.

Seems like it would work best with children on the same and steady visitation plan. I’d say if you’ve got kids on more than two schedules, you might be looking elsewhere for streamlining the process [or look for a way to get a better visitation agreement, for a better idea].
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Look–divorce is hard and painful and often overwhelming in its requirement for detailed information, if you and your spouse really go head to head. An app isn’t going to make the hurt go away, or explain to your children why mommy and daddy don’t love each other any more, or let you go back in time to try to fix mistakes in your marriage.

But it can make accessing the information you need simpler, and can assist in organizing and keeping track of the manifold details that go into a final divorce agreement. And if it can do that, it’s probably worth its weight in app-gold–even if you have to pay South Carolina prices.

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Filed under: Candida Abrahamson PhD