As anyone who’s been through a separation and divorce will tell you, the process is rarely easy. You start a relationship thinking it will never end. And then one day, it does.

What started as a beautiful, loving relationship — and then family — becomes a time of confusion, anger, and sadness. The happy, peaceful home life you once cherished is now a stress pit — and that’s the last thing any parent wants for their child.

While most people picture lawyers and courtrooms as a necessary part of divorce, many modern couples are embracing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods like mediation, counseling, and, most importantly, technologies that encourage parents to stay out of court and work together to reach agreements amicably.

The case for technology is compelling because it gives families power to resolve disputes on their own. It fosters a more peaceful approach for parents during separation/divorce, and creates a more positive environment for the child during an already difficult time. Not to mention it saves families a significant amount of time and money.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) represents an early generation of disparate “online” tools used to manage specific aspects of a co-parenting relationship. Typically, these legacy technologies like faxes, emails and “telephonic communication” are considered part of the ODR ecosystem, though dedicated websites and apps have emerged in recent years. Want to document communication to eliminate the He-Said/She-Said? There’s an app for that. Share a calendar to reduce scheduling mishaps? Plenty of websites will help you there. Need to prove you were on time for child exchanges? Go buy some french fries, keep the receipt, and show the judge to prove you were there on time (not a joke — the “French Fry Order” is made everyday in courtrooms across the country!).

You can even use ODR to resolve conflicts — though only after the conflict has gotten so bad that one parent files a court motion. These tools may help you resolve a fight that’s already boiled over, but they do little to minimize acrimony, streamline decisions, and prevent conflict to begin with.

Luckily, a new category of technology called Intelligent Dispute Resolution (IDR) is showing promise. IDR pioneer Hyphenus incorporates computer and human intelligence into a suite of integrated co-parenting tools to help parents manage, predict, and prevent conflict — long before it happens. If you’re going through a separation or divorce, here’s what IDR platforms like co-parenter, can do for you.

IDR can keep you out of court

The mountain of financial, practical and emotional decisions separating or divorced couples face can be too much to handle. Put a child in the mix and things become even more complicated. Things you never thought about — like custody, visitation, child support, parental rights — are now part of everyday life; decisions about education, healthcare, dietary choices, and even bedtimes, which you and your co-parent once made together, are now a catalyst for conflict and disagreement. What was once a simple negotiation is now the basis to lawyer up, head for the courts, and enter the death-spiral of litigation. Not only are courts the wrong place for personal co-parenting decisions to be made, but they are overburdened, underfunded, and ill-equipped to give you the personalized attention your family deserves. And frankly, that simple decision that you need to make now can take weeks, months — even years — to resolve through the courts.

IDR is specifically designed to encourage parents to take critical decisions involving their children into their own hands, reducing the need for courts and lawyers. IDR brings together features like communication tools, schedules, calendars, and document libraries with predictive technologies that help users prevent conflict before it even occurs. More advanced IDR platforms like Hyphenus’ flagship product, coParenter, will even connect users with live, on-demand professionals who can help resolve disputes, mediate agreements, and coach parents to make better, more informed co-parenting decisions.

Ultimately, less time in front of a judge means more time (and more budget) for positive experiences and memories with your kids.

IDR can help you save money

Everyone knows the divorce process can be an enormous money suck. Fact: The average cost of divorce in the U.S. is around $15,000-$20,000 — and that can vary from city to city. And if you think you’re the first person to confuse “free consultation” for “free advice,” think again my friend. Lawyers are in the business of making money. The average divorce lawyer makes $250 per hour and in Los Angeles, you can easily pay upwards of $1,000 for 60 minutes of their time. And depending on your individual needs, you may end up hiring costly experts from other fields. Before you know it, your co-parenting mole-hill morphs into a miserable mountain of costly appraisers, psychologists, minors’ council, forensic accountants, and consultants. I think you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong — those costs can be justified when legitimate legal issues require the help of a legal professional. But up to 80 percent of the things parents fight about involve co-parenting decisions — not legal issues.

IDR is all about helping you make the best co-parenting decision for your child without the need for the courts or a lawyer. If used successfully, computer intelligence will help parents predict and prevent conflict, making resolution a moot point. Should conflict occur, however, a live, on-demand professional can be engaged to help triage a crisis, mediate an agreement, and coach parents towards more child-centric decisions. These professionals can also draft/edit communication, coach parents and help them find appropriate local resources, usually for a very low monthly fee.

So, be mindful and engage the legal system sparingly. Your checkbook will thank you — and so will your child.

IDR can help bring civility and harmony back into your life

As parents, our kids come before anything. But, if you’re unhappy, you’ll make your child unhappy as well. You may think you’re doing a great job hiding your emotions, but children pick up on everything.

Divorce and separation can be one of the most challenging times in a person’s life. The more you can do to minimize stress, the quicker you can start your new life. And the more quickly you can establish respectful communication based on the best interests of your child, the better co-parents you’ll be.

Technology might not be one of the first things you think of in terms of bringing happiness and civility back in your life, but you’d be surprised. IDR technology was built to streamline communication, encourage collaboration and eliminate friction.

Imagine a world where you can leverage technological advances like artificial intelligence to co-parent your child through your divorce without a lawyer and with no stress; imagine being able to put all those negative emotions aside and give your new life the start it deserves; imagine being able to give your child the gift of hope and positivity during this difficult time. That future is not so distant.

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  • Jonathan Verk is the CEO & Co-founder of Hyphenus, the pioneering provider of Intelligent Dispute Resolution (IDR) technology. Their flagship product, coParenter, helps separating, divorced and never-married parents predict, prevent and resolve conflict, allowing them to make better coParenting decisions for their kids. Prior to founding coParenter, Jonathan spent more than two decades in different leadership roles in the entertainment, media and technology industries.  Most recently, Jonathan was Executive Vice President at Shazam where he spearheaded the company’s television practice. Prior to that, he was CEO of PromaxBDA, where he grew the organization it into an international brand serving over 20k media & entertainment marketing executives with more than 30 conferences & events around the world. In addition to his day jobs, Jonathan has devoted himself to social justice organizer, CMO of Nicholas Negreponte’s One Laptop Per Child and an advisor to Vice President Al Gore. He founded Hyphenus after experiencing the impact family litigation can have on families.