Our Family Wizard vs. Talking Parents, Review
Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard are, at their core, communications platforms built for separated parents. Each program offers something unique, which we’ll talk about later, but for now, let’s focus on what they have in common:
Both offer messaging services and other modes of communication not dissimilar to texting or email, with one major addendum; anything sent via Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard is unalterable. It cannot be deleted, and it cannot be modified. In other words, both programs give parents (and the court), a reliable record of communication to refer to any time there is a dispute over what’s been said and agreed upon. To ensure this, communication records are stored on the platform’s respective servers, meaning there’s no possibility of data corruption or loss.
Worried about security? Don’t be. Communications in both programs are entirely secure; no-one has access to them outside of individuals granted access by both parties (usually children or extended family members), and the court.
So, with two appealing options, the question becomes: how do I choose?
Talking Parents Vs. OFW
Both Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard are making huge waves in the legal community. As far as legal professionals are concerned, both services offer a solution to one of the hardest parts of any case—your clients. Both Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents work to create a traceable and indisputable communications log between your client and whatever party they happen to be dealing with. No longer do you and the courts need to play an extended guessing game or argue over “he said, she said.”
But, Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard are not identical. While they’re centered on the same basic idea (creating a clear and accurate log of communications and agreements), they take different approaches to the matter, offer different services, and are (accordingly) priced differently.
We’ll summarize the differences, here: Talking Parents is more forward-thinking but bare-bones. It doesn’t offer nearly the same variety of services that Our Family Wizard does… but its basic version is free, and its services and apps are more intuitive and better constructed. Our Family Wizard, on the other hand, comes at a modest cost (though there are caveats to this that we’ll explain, soon), but offers many notable services, with its “Tone Detector” being the most impressive among them.
Of course, if that summary was all there was to be said, we’d end this article there. Hopefully, this article will help legal professionals and others determine which service would be the best fit for their clients, or help separated parents decide which service to choose for themselves. Let’s start with the more complicated of the two.
Price: Starts at $99/year, per parent
OurFamilyWizard offers a wide variety of services and features intended to justify its price tag. To start with, it has what it calls the “OFW” Message Board, which would replace normal communication channels between parents in much the same way Talking Wizard does; communications made through here cannot be altered or deleted, which provides a clear, accurate record and helps prevent dishonesty and miscommunications. This makes it an excellent choice if you have a forgetful client or a client whose former spouse has been known to manipulate records. That said, OFW’s Message Board has more in common with an email app than a texting service, making it less intuitive to use. That said, it has five major selling points.
1. Our Family Wizard helps you track things like school events and medical appointments
OurFamilyWizard has an “infobank,” where parents can upload files and make entries that, like everything else on OurFamilyWizard, cannot be modified or removed. It’s a convenient way to keep both parents abreast of things like report cards or medical reports. This pairs nicely with the OFW Journal, which acts as an unchangeable personal incident log. Individual users determine who has access to each journal entry, which allows everyone involved to keep a fresh record of anything suspicious without fear of reprisal. On top of that, OFW also has a very useful color-coded calendar designed to resolve custody issues. It provides an accurate record of custody and custody-based responsibilities and even has built-in functionality to allow parents to request trades or forfeits of custody days.
2. Our Family Wizard allows you to track financial expenses and receive documented payments
Our Family Wizard’s expense log and OFW/pay system are a godsend for anyone involved in a family law dispute. Family Law Lawyers know full-well how much conflict stems from financial disagreements, and the expense log goes a long way towards solving that problem. It tracks expenses, financial obligations (such as medical expenses for the child that are not reimbursed by insurance), and allows each parent to get a clear idea of child-related costs and family spending. The OFWpay system pairs with that, and allows parents to make documented electronic payments for a variety of family-related expenses. Finally, the OFW Expense Log does many financial calculations for you, taking human error out of the equation. Like everything else on OFW, these services create an unchangeable, accurate log for use in any future legal disputes.
3. Our Family Wizard helps you watch the tone of your written communication
The most impressive service that OFW has to offer is its “Tonemeter.” The Tonemeter analyzes messages and communications between users and warns them when their messages appear to be emotionally charged, harsh, passive-aggressive, or otherwise unfriendly. It works much the same way as to spell or grammar check. Now, we’ll be honest—when we started researching for this article, we did not have high hopes for this feature, but as it turns out, it’s incredibly effective. As any lawyer knows, anything that helps prevent unnecessary conflict or miscommunication between clients is well worth $99 a year.
4. Our Family Wizard makes including other parties and submitting court orders much easier
Finally, Our Family Wizard gives free accounts to children and third parties (such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles) that connect them to the family. It also has free professional accounts for parents, mental health professionals, and mediators, which all make your job much, much easier. OFW has a built-in system for submitting subpoenas, requests for information, and other court orders. It’s also free to print reports to bring into court.
5. Our Family Wizard Keeps an Access Log
Our Family Wizard also keeps an access log that tracks when, how many times, and how long a user has logged into the service. This allows parents to verify claims that they have or haven’t been informed of an event or a medical expense, preventing allegations that the other has been uncommunicative.
Pricing and Lawyer Sponsorship
OFW has a variety of pricing options, starting at $99/year for the most basic options. If you’re already spending money, we recommend picking at least their “A” package, which includes the tone-meter and 5GB’s of online storage. The Tonemeter is easily one of OFW’s strongest offerings, and you’d be remiss to ignore it.
Are there any hidden fees?
Sort of. OFW has a variety of subscription plans that can be somewhat confusing, but more importantly; an OFW account only functions for one parent. This means that both parents must buy their own subscriptions. The third party, child, and professional accounts remain free, regardless, but this can be a problem if one parent is intent on preventing dishonesty and miscommunication, while the other remains intransigent.
There are ways to get around the fees
Luckily, many lawyers are more than willing to sponsor their clients and pay for a subscription for both their clients and their partners. As a result, OFW offers bulk subscription packages for legal professionals. Most people aren’t willing to refuse something that comes for free, so unless the opposing counsel is particularly prickly, this is a good solution. On that note, lawyers; this service has huge potential to make your job much, much easier, so consider the cost of buying this service an investment.
Price: Free! (for the basic version)
Talking Parents advertises as an interconnected replacement for email, text, and other electronic messages between co-parents.
Like OFW, Talking Parents provides an accurate, unchangeable record of communications between parents. Once something’s been said or sent, it’s in the system forever. It cannot be altered or deleted. What’s more, it’s very interconnected, and rather than offering a replacement for email alone, it connects with texting and the like, as well.
Talking Parents is Simple and Easy
That might be an understatement—you start a conversation by clicking the “New Conversation” button, and all messages from then out are recorded. Files can be attached, if necessary. Talking Parents also records when parents have signed in, viewed messages, been updated, and a number of other things, which prevents parents from claiming that they haven’t been informed of an update in their child’s life.
What about Medical Records, Keeping Track of School Events, Payments, et cetera?
Talking Parents does not offer the breadth of services that OFW does. While you can use the conversations in Talking Parents to keep track of all those complicated records and documents, doing so is a bit like trying to use a texting app to keep track, making the service unsuited to such needs. What’s more, it doesn’t allow parents to pay each other for child-related expenses.
Are there any hidden fees?
Unfortunately, yes. While it’s free to use Talking Parents, the point of these programs is to allow you to have an unalterable, secure record that is admissible in court. Talking Parents charges for records of access and communication. Complete, certified records of communications in PDF format can be obtained at any time for 3.99, and you can order a printed version of these records for $19 plus 19 cents per page.
That said, they do offer free electronic records for victims of domestic violence.
What’s the Verdict? How do they compare?
Talking Parents: Free, and Much Easier to Use
Talking Parents is focused almost entirely on communication, and it does this well. The app is well-integrated and intuitive, without any bells and whistles. It records things reliably, and the fact that it also records when parents see a message gives it an edge over Our Family Wizard. Plus, it’s free.
Our Family Wizard: The Full Package
But, Our Family Wizard’s additional features give Talking Parents a run for its money. The calendar, the infobank, and the expense log/OFWpay are all extremely valuable resources. And the Tonemeter allows OFW to come close to beating Talking Parents at its own game.
So, What To Choose?
In the end, which one you recommend to your clients should be up to the level of assistance you believe they need. If, for the most part, they’re functional and only have some simple communication issues to manage, or if you want to be safe and ensure that their communications have a concrete record, then Talking Parents is your best bet. It’s intuitive, it’s simple, and its free, while Our Family Wizard can be unnecessarily complicated at times.
However, if you find your client embroiled in arguments over scheduling, money, sharing of information, or see a distinct inability to recognize the tone of their messages, the additional features offered by Our Family Wizard will save you, your client, and the entire courtroom a lot of trouble. At that point, the service is well-worth its money, and it would be well-worth your time to fund it for your client and, possibly, the opposing party if necessary.
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About the Author:
Connor D. Johnson
Connor is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Boston, Massachusetts. He specializes in Law and legal related articles. He writes articles using both information provided by the contributor and from independent research. That said, his versatility allows him to handle a wide range of industries, and his knowledge of modern inbound marketing and SEO ensure that his writing brings attention to your business.
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