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Family Law Blog

Having trouble communicating with your ex? This new web-based app may be the solution.

Posted by Karina Ralston on 12 Jan 2018

Early last year, I wrote about how the court responds when there is poor communication between parties post separation. In cases where parties are hostile, they will often communicate aggressively or through their children; both of which will inevitably impact the child as they become the ‘piggy in the middle’.

The Court has tried to respond by suggesting proposals to reduce direct interaction between parties, such as changeovers occurring in public locations (e.g. a park or restaurant chain), the use of more formal written proposals, facilitating contact through friends and relatives that are trusted by both parties, and restricting communication to written forms. These have the primary benefit of shielding children from the tension and hostility surrounding separation.

Queenslanders Shawn Brown and Michael Kaminski have created an app named ‘eCommBook’ to provide a legitimate platform that facilitates effective communication between separated spouses. The app’s objective is to make the post-separation process as smooth as possible and to curb violence and abuse between parents so as to shield children from the tension and hostility surrounding family breakdowns.

A web-based app that stores all of the details that a book might, eCommBook allows ex-partners to communicate with their kids and one another. Parents can share information such as appointments, excursions, custody arrangements, school reports, sporting achievements etc. with each other. The app also includes prompts for users to review their messages before they hit send, in an attempt to halt abusive communication.

An unfortunate problem following domestic violence related family separation occurs when parents have to communicate in person, e.g. when they have a changeover with their children. In some cases, there is an increased risk of this violence continuing.

Pauline Woodbridge, who runs Townsville's Domestic Violence Resource Centre, said negotiating arrangements with an ex-partner around children and property can often leave women fearful and in a vulnerable position, as "…the other party uses that as an opportunity to continue abuse”.

To assist with this, the app ensures a date, time and location stamp are securely stored. The idea behind this is that if interactions between ex-partners become violent, the app developers can provide a detailed log for authorities, which can be used as evidence in Court.

The added benefit is that this log might also deter people from being abusive. Mr Kaminski said "people simply knowing that we will provide this information if requested, will hopefully make people think a little bit about what they're doing”.

Mr Kaminski’s venture is fuelled by his own struggles in the Family Court, after his ex-partner took their son overseas when he was still young. Mr Kaminski said that he regretted the time he had spent arguing over parenting matters, suggesting that “had there been a method where we could've communicated much more effectively and had that available to the court, showing that we had agreed on these things, then it may have made the process much more streamlined and much less stressful to everybody involved”.

The app has a monthly subscription fee which the creators have described as “the price of a coffee”.

If you are having trouble communicating with your ex-partner and do feel that your family could benefit from utilising some alternative communication methods, the eCommBook may be a good place to start. You can visit the app’s website here.

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