What is the project?
The ubiquity of smartphones has been accompanied by a proliferation of apps to help separated parents manage their post-separation arrangements. Family law professionals are often asked about these apps by clients—yet there has been no empirical evidence that either professionals or clients can draw on about the potential benefits and risks of these apps.
Relationships Australia Victoria and Relationships Australia Canberra and Region are a Partner Organisation with academics at the Australian National University and University of Wollongong on an Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded study which aims to address this gap. In 2020, the study was awarded funding through an ARC Linkage Grant, with a March 2021 to March 2023 project timeline. The project involves multiple stages including:
- a survey of family law professionals
- a survey of app users
- and an evaluation of popular post-separation parenting apps.
The team has identified numerous benefits and risks associated with the use of co-parenting apps (applications). They have also found that family law professionals generally report little knowledge of co-parenting apps. A number of Relationships Australia’s Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Practitioners participated in testing 10 popular apps, all of which were rated ‘poor’ to ‘fair’. Data collection for this study is now complete and the team is working on communicating findings.
In 2022 the team presented on this study in a symposium at the Family and Relationships Services Australia (FRSA) Conference and in a paper at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Conference. In 2023, they presented another symposium at the FRSA conference, as well as a presentation at the National Mediation Conference.
Find out more
A number of articles from this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals. The first two are now available:
- Payne JL, Smyth BM, Irving M, Heard G and Althor G (2022) ‘Family law professionals’ views of post-separation parenting apps’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 36(1), doi:10.1093/lawfam/ebac029.
- Heard G, Irving MA, Smyth BM, Payne JL and Althor G (2023) ‘Risks and benefits of post-separation parenting apps: perceptions of family law professionals in Australia and New Zealand’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 45(2), doi: 10.1080/09649069.2023.2206225
- Smyth BM, Payne JL, Irving M and Heard G (in press) ‘Popular post-separation parenting apps: an examination’, Family Court Review