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I’m pleased today to present this guest post from the Honorable Joseph C. Adams, President Judge of the York County Court of Common Pleas, in York, Pennsylvania. Judge Adams is a well-respected judge, and a tech enthusiast who spearheaded the overhaul of the courtroom technology in York County. Attorneys appearing in York County now have access to cutting-edge technology in the courtroom, to help them better serve their clients.
As a family court judge, I deal with custody issues on a daily basis. One of the most frequent custody issues I have to address is the lack of communication between parents. In fact, lack of communication is what often keeps parties coming back into court. In my opinion, parents who are able to effectively communicate are, in the majority of the cases, able to work out most custody issues without the involvement of the court. That being said, some people are so bad at communication that I see them more often then some of my own family!
The telltale sign of lack of communication is the failure of one parent to notify the other of important dates such as doctor appointments or sporting events. If this is happening you know the parties are likely headed back to court. The complaint usually goes like this, “[Father/Mother] refuses to provide [Father/Mother] with notice of child’s activities so as to preclude [Mother/Father] from participating in [fill in the activity].” It is so common that most family law attorneys have a pre-populated form ready to be filed at a moment’s notice.
As a judge it’s my responsibility to deal with these issues. Fortunately, I like to help people solve problems which is why I became a lawyer and ultimately a judge. I also like using technology to organize my life. Several years ago my wife purchased an iPod touch for me which introduced me to the Apple ecosystem. I was hooked. I now have almost every Apple device there is: iPhone, iPad Pro with the pencil, MacBook Air laptop and Apple TV. I also have an Apple TV in my courtroom. I don’t have Apple’s CarPlay yet but it’s only a matter of time. My fascination with Apple products is so bad that my wife says i need iTherapy, but I digress.
As a problem solver and Apple user I have found a very easy solution to the notification of activities problem. However, it is for families who are in the Apple ecosystem – a shared calendar which is backed up through iCloud. It only takes a few minutes to set up and can ultimately save the parties hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in attorney fees.
Here’s how to set up a shared calendar:
- Launch the Calendar app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap on “Calendars” on the bottom of the screen.
- Tap on “Edit” located on the top left of the screen.
- Under the iCloud section tap on “Add Calendar…” (Make sure that it is under the iCloud section and not any other section).
- Type in a name for the calendar. I recommend, “Children’s calendar” or if you have only one child use that child’s name.
- Select a color for the calendar. This will allow you to easily see the calendar when the calendar app is open.
- Tap “Done” located on the top right of the screen. This will take you back to the “Edit Calendars” screen.
- Locate your new calendar and tap on it.
- Under the section “Shared With” tap on “Add Person”
- Type in the email addresses of those people you wish to share the calendar with.
- Tap “Add” located on the top right. This will take you back to the “Edit Calendars” screen. On this screen you will see the person’s name and the word “Pending” underneath.
An e-mail is sent to the other person who must accept the invitation to share the calendar. (Please note that it often takes several minutes for the other person to receive the invitation.) The person receiving the e-mail will be asked to log into their iTunes account to complete the process. You will receive a notice once they have accepted.
By default, once the person has accepted the invitation they will be able to view and edit the calendar which means that this person will be able to add and remove calendar entries. If you only want the individual to view the calendar and not edit then you will need to tap “View & Edit” next to the person’s name and toggle the green “Allow editing” button so it is off. It is also important to make sure that the “Show Changes” button is on. When this button is on you will receive a message when an event on the shared calendar is added, modified, or deleted by the other person(s) sharing the calendar.
Now that you have the shared calendar set up all you need to do is assign the new appointment to your shared calendar. Here’s how: When you tap on “+” to add an new entry you will need to scroll down and tap on “calendar”. This will open a new screen that lists of the calendars that are available. Tap on your shared calendar.
Remember, calendar sharing only works with iCloud calendars. That means, both you, and the person you want to share the calendar with, have to be using iCloud. There is actually a work around for this using Google calendars but I’ll save that for another article.