Parenting Apps for Divorced Parents



Jessica: Are you having issues co-parenting with your ex? Is communication almost unbearable, and you’re struggling with how to deal with everyday things for your kids? Just wish it could all be easier? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about in today’s episode of the Divorce etc… podcast. We are the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H. We focus on helping you navigate your divorce and successfully moving on with your life. Please follow us on all social media at exEXPERTS, and check out for tons of free divorce related resources. Let’s bring in today’s guest. We have spoken a lot about co-parenting apps amongst ourselves: what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be. We are so excited to bring in Michael Daniels, who is the founder of Fayr (spelled F-A-Y-R), a co-parenting app that’s been around for almost six years, and he is going to talk all about co-parenting apps. Welcome to the show, Michael.

Michael: Thank you very much for having me, both of you.

T.H.: We did not have the pleasure of apps back in our day. You did?

Jessica: Stop. We have to do the summit intro.

T.H.: Oh.

Jessica: Okay. Now I’m going to do a different intro. Give me a moment here.

T.H.: Oh, so is that the stop for Ally to know?  

Jessica: No, she’ll just listen to this. It’s fine. Okay. 3, 2—actually, I’m going to switch on my screen the boxes because I don’t know how it records. 3, 2, 1… welcome to this session of the Win Your Divorce Summit. We are so excited to be talking about parenting apps: why you need them, what they can do, and how they can help you in any co-parenting situation, most likely in a not so amicable situation. We are happy to have our guest here today, Michael Daniels, who is the founder of Fayr. Welcome to the summit, Michael.

Michael: Thank you both very much for having me.

T.H.: I mean we have to talk about co-parenting apps. That’s not something that we had when we were getting a divorce, but we’re co-parenting for the rest of our lives, so it probably would have been a good tool for us now. What made you even think that you needed to start Fayr? What was the impetus behind it?

Michael: Well, the impetus was, generally, you think that once you reach settlement, the worst is behind you. You kind of feel like, oh, this is all over and things are going to get better. But they’re not. Oftentimes, you’ll end up in a post judgment modification. The communication breaks down, it causes people to argue. Those arguments lead to future headaches that you frankly don’t know how to navigate. You’re trying to communicate with this person, and trust is completely broken down. How do you avoid those motions from popping back up? So for me, I was living in a world of constantly documenting and having to document daily time sharing of schedules, pickups, and drop offs, all of the expenses. I kept a very dutiful log of all of these things. When I did end up in a post judgment hearing, I would lay these all out, and then the other party would say, “Well, he made all of that up.” The truth is somebody could make it all up. I wanted to create something that was really going to be very concrete that both parties are privy to what’s going on, and that couldn’t be contested. I wanted something incontestable

Jessica: Were you from the very beginning, in your situation, was it always that type of situation where it was acrimonious and high conflict, that right from the beginning, it had to be done in those kinds of ways that you felt that you needed to be keeping track of everything and recording everything and documenting everything?

Michael: Well, absolutely. I mean, generally speaking, there’s up to three years of backlog in family courts. You can file your motion for whatever it is, and you won’t get settlement on that for two years. In my case, it was two years. During those two years, you’re just living in an anxious state of mind because every little thing that you’re doing is being watched, and you’re taking fire from your co-parent constantly. It’s just robbing you of your happiness. And so yeah, I was from the very get go trying to prepare. I was in a custody battle, and so you’re trying to stay as well documented as possible because a lot of arrows are being shot at you.

Jessica: Had your lawyer said to you from the beginning, like as soon as you started your custody situation, and I’m just asking this for everyone who’s watching, did you know from the beginning you needed to start off by documenting everything: what time you’re picking them up, what time you’re dropping them off, that you spent X amount of extra money on this type of a thing?

Michael: Absolutely. Yeah, she was saying you need to document every receipt. Every time you pick up or drop off, you need to show the court. Because if this ends up in trial, you need to be able to prove to a judge that you’ve been a responsible co-parent, and that you are in fact a present parent: financially present, emotionally present, and physically present in the children’s lives. Yeah, I documented everything. The problem is that, for example, my attorney had told me to communicate via email, because emails are admissible in court, whereas text messages were not. I would send emails, and I’d get responses in text message. So it was just everything was breaking down and wasn’t working well for me. I remember having to go by some app that was able to take your iOS messages and export them into some PDF. It was a really expensive app; I think you paid $100 for that, just for that one thing, just to convert it all over to prepare myself for trial. Look, it’s just so difficult to be the best version of yourself when you’re under that level of pressure.

T.H.: Right, right. I honestly also had to keep track. I had a calendar, and I would write out every day when my ex had visitation; what time he came to pick up; what time he came to drop off; did they get dinner; and if they have birthday parties, did he buy the gift. I had to do that. I had to do that because then the process also makes you feel like you can’t trust your soon-to-be ex anyway. I think it’s really great that you have an app and it is admissible to the court, right, all of the information that’s loaded into it?

Michael: Yeah.

T.H.: Is that the same for all co-parenting apps, or just certain ones?

Michael: Well, I mean, all co-parenting apps are created for this purpose. Fortunately now, there are a lot of good ones out there that do a lot more. When I got into this, there were there was a legacy brand that had been around. But again, when it was created, it was during the time prior to the advent of the smart phone. When you think about what the world was back then when you talk about this sort of thing, and you’re logging things on a desktop, that’s a very different—the product was postured more around documentation rather than truly co-parenting in an amicable way.  

Jessica: And also being on the go, being able to just do stuff, like you said, if you’re not using—

Michael: And many of their features were not app based, they were only web based. So for example, you could get a message, but it could be seven hours old, because certain features just weren’t there. I created something completely app based. Really the impetus for it was one particular event. I was the first co-parenting app to have a geo check in feature. This really was what caused me to go ahead and pull the trigger and build it. We had a time sharing schedule that I was supposed to deliver the children where my co-parent was living 43 miles away from me. On Saturday morning, I drove 43 miles down there. Upon getting there, there’s nobody at the house, nobody was answering the phone or the door, not responding to any messages. I just turned around and said the heck. After 30 minutes, I just came home. Upon getting home, I get a call from my attorney who had just been contacted by her attorney saying I’m in violation of this court order. Now this has serious repercussions.

T.H.: Yeah, absolutely.

Michael: Because we had a trial coming up, and the material fact is I wasn’t there. The kids were not delivered. This doesn’t look good for me, and this could probably end up affecting the years to come of my co-parenting relationship with my children. This could have serious repercussions. But I said I was there, and they said, “Well, no, what proof do you have?” Well, fortunately, thank goodness, I had taken a toll road so I was able to pull my records from the toll showing that I had exited the toll at a certain period time. I was fine with this particular accusation. However, what if I had taken any other road? I was just lucky. My attorney had said, “Well, in the future, go to McDonald’s, buy $1 french fries, and save the receipt.” I mean, how ridiculous.

T.H.: I know, but think about that. It’s already so hard. And now I have to remember to go and make a pit stop so I can have a track record of a receipt or purchase? 

Jessica: But that’s a huge thing. I mean for everyone, again, listening and watching, the proprietary piece being that you have a geo tracker. So when it comes to you or your ex fighting over what time someone arrived somewhere or whether they went to the right place when they dropped them off, like that’s key.

Michael: Yeah, it’s indisputable now. I mean, now you can sleep better. Because I lost a lot of sleep over that, I mean, just that one—and I lost $800 in legal fees that day too, by the way.

Jessica: Right, just dealing with that to prove that you were, right.

Michael: I mean this is the most financially stressful time in people’s lives. They’re going through these things that are very expensive. I mean, they will wreck people for decades. Some people just don’t recover from it. It’s second biggest reason, next to medical bills, that people file for bankruptcy. I mean, this is a hard time. So for me, one Saturday morning, I’m already trying to save all my dollars here going through a very stressful time. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, an $800 bill, just from something completely stupid, completely ridiculous.

T.H.: Which you were being honest about.

Michael: I didn’t do anything wrong.

T.H.: Some of the people that I’ve spoken to actually use the apps, the various different co-parenting apps, just because it makes it easier to track your expenses and everything. You don’t have to be in a contentious situation. It certainly will help, because if you’re not communicating at all with your soon-to-be ex or your ex, this is great. Don’t some also have a tone meter on it to see what kind of tone you’re using in your messages? But to track your expenses and all of that kind of stuff, to have it in one place that’s portable and easily accessible, I think is really of great value.

Michael: Yeah, keep it all in one place to keep yourself organized. Most people lose cases not because they’re bad parents, they’re just bad documenters. The apps make it really easy to stay well documented, and that you’re ready at anytime. You save a lot of money in paralegal fees.  

Jessica: But I have a question. We’ve had a lot of discussions about high conflict divorces and difficult people and people being married to narcissists, and my understanding is when you’re married to someone unreasonable and you can’t have normal conversations with them, that is certainly a problem. I’m curious to know does the court ever have to order someone to use the app? Because I would imagine there are certain situations where I could be like, this is going to make my life easier, I want to start using this app, and it does require diligent documentation. I could see people’s exes being like, “Fuck that I’m not going to do that.” Then I wonder what happens then?

Michael: Yeah, well, it’s like somebody’s always benefiting from things remaining ambiguous, right? Somebody is benefiting from the breaking down of communication. I tell people all the time, unless you can get both parties to agree to it, put it in your settlement agreement, which is the most ideal situation. Sometimes judges, yes, will order it. But it is best when two parties can say, “Listen, we’ve got these children for the next whatever, 10 years, that have to raise together.” This is the only area of life that you can be in a civil suit with another human being and have to go on communicating with them for years to come. That’s very hard. When you talk about romance having been involved, and the breaking down of that, it’s just strains the lines of communication so badly and your children are the ones who are going to be affected by it. Putting that aside, this is the best way to do it. Because you get to remove all of the emotion, you get to sit behind the wall of that app, and everything that’s been written in there is documented. The geo check in thing, I mean, the fact that I could have shown up that day, dropped a pin, I can’t manipulate it. It’s not like Facebook’s check in feature, like you could be at the Taj Mahal right now. You can’t manipulate you’re there. Your co-parent gets an instant push notification to their phone. That day, particularly for me, she never would have picked up the phone to call her attorney. Because that’s it, I would have saved $800 that day. The amount of money you’re saving and not even aware that you’re saving, you just don’t even know. You’re saving a lot. I just encourage people to use it no matter what, even if your co-parent refuses to use it with you, because they want to be the one who keeps things ambiguous. If you end up in court one of these days, you’re going to look great to a judge, right? You’re the one who’s trying, and that co-parent’s been invited to join the conversation. And you’re going to win by default.

Jessica: So for people who haven’t used parent co-parenting apps before, who really haven’t read up on them, read different reviews, give us what the features are so that people understand how beneficial the whole thing is.

Michael: Yeah, well, I mean, my initial core features were obviously communication. That’s your text messaging. You have all of the ease of text messaging that we’re used to, with all of the admissibility of emails. It’s the best of both worlds.

Jessica: So you’re texting through the app, not through your iMessage or anything else?

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Through the app, everything’s in there. It shows when things are read: everything’s timed, dated, and stamped. Images are as well if you want to send those through as well, which is helpful. Sometimes people can say, “Well, you were there, but the kid wasn’t with you.” Well, you can take a picture and the kid’s timed, dated, and stamped as well. So that’s one feature. The expense tracker obviously tracks expenses back and forth. In real time, there’s a pie chart in there that will show right now you’re at 49/51 on expenses, or whatever your expense sharing agreement is, everything is logged in there. All the receipts can be saved, and you leave notes attached to it. We also have categorization. When I log an expense, was it medical, uncovered medical, dental, vision, extracurricular, school? I mean, there’s a whole bunch of categories. It’s nice to keep track of that as well. Because I mean, some of those things are tax deductible, and it’s hard to remember them at the end of the year, but they’re all there. Then of course, so that’s the expense tracker, and then we have our geo check in feature, obviously, as I previously had mentioned. Did I hit all four? What did I hit here?

Jessica: I think so, but how is—

Michael: Oh, the calendar, the co-parenting calendar. Yeah.

T.H.: Co-parenting calendar.

Jessica: Which actually is a huge point of contention for a lot of people.

Michael: Yeah.

T.H.: Right. Right, so once you agree to it, and you put it in there, then you have to follow through with it.

Michael: Yeah, you’re on auto-pilot.

T.H.: Then your geo tracker will see if you’re where you’re supposed to be. But what I love about all of this, honestly, is it’s so overwhelming just to get a divorce. To get your paperwork together is such a huge pain in the ass. The fact that you’re making my life a little more efficient, just take a picture of the receipt, it’s already done. I don’t have to go back and look through the stack of crap that I’ve collected in the last year, and then start logging things. If you can get into the habit of doing this on a regular basis, it’ll keep you so much more organized, totally reduce your stress, potentially save you money, and make your co-parenting a little easier than it would have been. 

Jessica: Which is the goal.

T.H.: I think it’s great, so brilliant.

Jessica: What changes have you felt compelled to have to make from the initial launch till now in the last five years? Because I would imagine you’re getting feedback all the time from people, and even for yourself and your own situation: “Oh, hey, we should have thought about this.”

Michael: Yeah, our feedback loop has been great from our users. Actually, we’ve added several things. One of the things we added, for example, was a child profile. A lot of people say sometimes I’ll be on vacation somewhere and my co-parent, it’s good for you to have their—again, we don’t sell user data. Everything’s incredibly encrypted, private. Generally, in the world of apps, they’re either selling your product, or you are the product that they’re selling. So in our case, nothing’s free, just realize that. They’ve got to make money on it somehow. It’s not easy to run these things. We don’t sell anything. In the child profile, for example, you might have the birth certificate in there. You can upload PDFs, images, leave notes. I have your school IDs in there, maybe what grade your kid’s in, what’s their teacher’s name, what rooms they’re in, vaccination information, when they’re due for the next one, who’s the pediatrician. There’s a whole child profile for each one of the children that you put in there. That’s one of the things we added just to help the parents stay organized. Generally, nowadays, everything’s online. When your kids are away for school, if they don’t have the automatic logins, maybe you don’t remember their school ID number, but now you got it. You can log in from some other computer.

T.H.: And then you don’t have to bother your ex. I mean, I would get bothered anyway, because he isn’t going to want to look.

Jessica: Daren literally emails me at least twice a week asking me for login information for stuff. Just get a password keeper on your phone!

T.H.: But how nice would it be to be like…

Michael: Yeah.

T.H.: Click.

Michael: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, we try to make that easier. Again, everything we’re doing here is just trying to make the lines of communication better for people to avoid escalation, unnecessary escalation. Because most of the time, people aren’t necessarily bad. I mean, we like to paint our co-parents as just like the worst people on the planet. But I mean, generally speaking, everything’s a shade of gray. It’s bad communication that makes us start making certain suppositions about the other person’s intentions. When things are just black and white and left in here, it allows people to mitigate some of that stuff. That’s what we’re trying to do is just help people communicate more clearly so that misunderstandings and disagreements don’t escalate.

T.H.: And then what about a fee? How much does it cost? What do these apps require in terms of costs? Do parents share the cost? Is it like a cost for me and a cost for my ex? Or is it like a family plan?

Michael: Yeah, we probably should create a family plan for people who just say “Hey, I’m going to cover the cost of it.” But so far right now, what we are is we have a value proposition of monthly, which is 9.99 a month. We have a discount code also, you can just type in the word “discount” and you’ll get a 20% discount on that. There’s the monthly, there’s the annual, which is $99 a year, or there’s the three year, which is $199 for three years. So those are the options.  

T.H.: I mean it’s so little money in the scheme of things in dealing with court. Your sense of calm in your brain is at least worth that much money.

Michael: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Jessica: I’m curious, I mean, we got divorced over 14 years ago, and as you said, text messages used to not be permissible in court. I’m wondering what’s different in the Fayr app that allows certain communications to be admissible? What is that, that makes courts allow it?

Michael: Well, there are so many apps out there you can manipulate and fake iOS messages. And iOS messages can be deleted. People can go in there and take it back. Anything that goes in Fayr is not being deleted. It’s there. It’s done. You said it. We intend to probably create a tone meter. I danced around this one, because in the past, really in my cases, for example—

Jessica: It’s so subjective.

Michael: Well, the problem is, why do you want to artificially prop up somebody who may be crazy, somebody who’s literally writing messages with 14 exclamation points, 17 question marks? A judge needs to know you’ve got one of these people who are just freaking crazy. A guardian ad litem needs to know who is crazy here if they’re going to make an informed decision. When you’re artificially fixing all of their language to make them sound like they’re a little angel, it’s not doing anything good for the child. 

T.H.: Right.

Jessica: Right.

T.H.: That’s a good point.

Jessica: That’s a really good point.

T.H.: Yeah, you can manipulate it.

Michael: I’d rather people take responsibility for hey, I need to chill because I’m a crazy person. I’d rather people take responsibility for the things that they’re writing.

T.H.: I think that makes a lot of good sense.

Jessica: What comes next when it comes to this? I mean you guys have gotten into a niche area that is so needed and that people are jumping on, so where does it go from here?

Michael: Yeah, well, we have some big plans for Fayr. We want to take it to the next level. Because right now we are essentially a tool, just to help. It’s like a little Swiss army knife to help you through these little problems. But we’re not necessarily yet rebuilding people. I would like to sort of gamify Fayr and to give you real world savings. For example, I like to get content from people like you, experts like you, people who’ve been through it, support groups like you where we make tiny little digestible one to three minute clips every day, and you get a little push notification and digest your little video that is teaching you something. Just to keep this stuff on the front of your mind, so that when you’re going through these stressful things, we’re actually helping you with the proper techniques or information just to help you avoid escalation. When I digest a one minute little video every day, we get that from Instagram, right? We scroll through, we follow certain people, and we’re getting that. But how cool would it be if you’re getting a little prompted every day within the app, you watch it, and you got 20 Fayr points for having watched it? You get all these Fayr points, and then we’d like to establish certain relationships with let’s just say, Royal Caribbean, right? You say, “Hey, I can redeem these Fayr points for a 5% discount, and it’ll make memories of my kids.” 

T.H.: Oh, my God, awesome.

Jessica: That’s amazing.

Michael: So now we’re rewarding quality, good co-parenting behavior. Let’s say when I log something in Fayr, and just for logging it, I get a Fayr point. You as a co-parent would see oh, you get a push notification: “Mike just logged an expense buying soccer shoes.” All you have to do is respond in a positive way: “Hey, thank you.” That’s it. Or if I send you a message and you respond within 15 minutes and don’t leave me hanging for two hours, just respond, “Thanks.” That’s it. You’re going to get the same Fayr points. It’s not like a “I gotcha” thing. Both parties can earn equal points, and then those points can be redeemed for real world savings.

T.H.: I think it’s great. Do you get a demerit?

Michael: No, we don’t want to be—  

T.H.: I’m sorry, now we have to deduct 100 points. You’re not going away. That was bad behavior today. I’m teasing. I’m teasing.

Jessica: Yeah. But really, honestly, I feel like the co-parenting, whether people are co-parenting or parallel parenting, it’s if not the biggest issue, one of the top issues that people getting divorced with kids have. So for everybody watching here, by the way, if you haven’t upgraded to the ticket for extended access for these summit sessions, now’s the time to do that. But keep in mind it’s being able to track all of your expenses; it’s being able to have a geo locator that proves you are where you are say you are, if you’re having issues with your ex picking up or dropping off; and it’s being able to communicate—

T.H.: A calendar.

Jessica: Right. While being able to communicate in the app, which is all admissible in court; and being able to coordinate your co-parenting calendar, it hits pretty much everything that you need. As T.H. mentioned earlier, even if it’s not a vindictive or acrimonious situation, it just is more organized. It makes your life easier. You know where everything lives, and you don’t have to worry about it. We love the idea of co-parenting apps, and they just weren’t a thing 15 years ago.

T.H.: Yeah. Well, we barely had phones. So really, I mean, we’re not that old. Anyway, we didn’t have phones like today. But it really helps you get your shit together and be accountable and be the best parent. It really creates a boundary for you with your ex. So it’s protecting your emotions too. You can just put it here and walk away. You don’t have to have a phone call. You don’t have to do any of those things. Just put it all in one place. I think it’s really brilliant. I love that you’re growing it. Listen, everybody wants to win, so let us know when the game’s out.


Jessica: Yeah, right exactly. Well, thank you so much Michael for taking the time today. For everybody watching, stay tuned for more of our summit sessions. We have more to come.

Michael: Thank you.

Jessica: Now I’m going to do outro for—

T.H.: Our real ending.

Jessica: So hang on a second. If you enjoyed this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then please help us out. When you subscribe, rate, and review, it helps us get the word out so we can support more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Fayr (spelled F-A-Y-R), and of course, share this with anyone you know who can benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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