CoParent.me aims to help children by helping divorced parents

No technology can completely free a child from the pain of divorce, but CoParent.me, a Des Moines startup in public beta, hopes to ease the hassle of day to day communication in separated households.

Bill Breedlove, founder and CEO of CoParent.me and an attorney in Illinois, encountered divorce on a personal level through family and friends. …

A CoParent.me promotional video (above) illustrates the motivation for creating the service. CoParent.me can help separated parents manage their child’s schedule and activities.

No technology can completely free a child from the pain of divorce, but CoParent.me, a Des Moines startup in public beta, hopes to ease the hassle of day to day communication in separated households.

Bill Breedlove, founder and CEO of CoParent.me and an attorney in Illinois, encountered divorce on a personal level through family and friends.

“It wasn’t legal advice that they needed, it was just communication in general that was causing all the problems they were having,” Breedlove (left) said. “There’s a need for a platform for parents just to communicate just the ‘W questions,’ and nothing else — none of the emotional questions that go with it.”

CoParent.me is a web-based platform designed to serve as a management tool for parents, similar to a project management tool used by businesses, where users can see all the information about their child in one place.

Divorced parents have to communicate about everything from grades, schedules and health issues to the little things, like what the child wants to be for Halloween, Breedlove said. And, with so many ways to communicate, the information can become cluttered. One parent might send a Facebook message and the other might not see it for two days, or an email that seems concise and professional to one could come off as cold to the other.

“It’s really hard to keep track of all of those with people that you do like,” Breedlove said.

Breedlove also saw the problem from a legal standpoint: often, separated parents are required to document who is spending time or money on the child to prove they are upholding the custody arrangement. And, while a married parent can punish the child for something then say, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell dad,” if the parents are separated “dad” has a right to know what the child did wrong.

Once both parents sign up for the service — which Breedlove said can sometimes be a challenge in itself — they have a shared set of resources to communicate about their child.

After a two-month free trial, the site costs $8 per month per user. The fee can be waived in certain situations, such as court-ordered use of the site or military families, Breedlove said.

The Recent Changes menu gives one parent a recap of the information the other has entered. Other categories display information like the day’s schedule, teacher’s contact details or the child’s clothing sizes.

CoParent.me is currently beta testing with a group of families. The company is also connecting with family-practice lawyers, hoping they will recommend it to their clients.

Breedlove and three other team members started working on CoParent.me last year, pooling their money to hire Des Moines-based Webspec Design to develop the website in December. The team is spread out, each with another full-time job, and though CFO Boris Shcharansky is the only member currently based in Des Moines they all have connections to the city.

Breedlove said a CoParent.me mobile app will come eventually, but their current priority is making the web service as useful as possible. The website itself is mobile-friendly.

Other companies, including Our Family Wizard and 2houses, are developing similar programs. Shcharansky characterized it as a healthy competition, with each keeping tabs on the other’s growth.

Within the next year, the founders said they hope that people will associate CoParent.me with helping children. Though parents are their customers, Breedlove said their end goal is always to help children.

“We saw a need, and we decided we wanted to fill it.”

 

Credits: Video screenshot from coparent.me. Recent changes screenshot courtesy Webspec Design. Photo courtesy Breedlove. 

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