With so many helpful tools and apps out there, it was only a matter of time before something would come along which would help divorced parents figure out a fair way to split up their parenting time. Not only is it important to figure it out right the first time, which avoids vacation, school and weekend snafus, most people need a workable schedule that can diminish any unnecessary interactions with the ex.
In this episode, Shea Drefs of Custody Xchange, talks with Modern Divorce host Billie Tarascio about how to use the app that helps parents determine how to split their parenting time. The Custody X Change app helps single parents describe a schedule using the correct legal terminology, while also creating a professional-quality calendar you can present in court or negotiations to bolster your case.
Custody Exchange with Shea Drefs
[00:00:00] Billie Tarascio: [00:01:00] Okay. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast. I'm your host, Billie Tarascio, and today I am joined by Shea Drefs of Custody Exchange. Custody Exchange is a very interesting tool in the online universe of co-parenting and child custody tools, and I'm excited to hear from Shay about its background, what it does and how it might be useful to you. Welcome to the show, Shea.
[00:01:33] Shea Drefs: Thank you very much. It's good to be here.
[00:01:35] Billie Tarascio: So, um, we were just discussing, you're in Bisbee, Arizona. That's fun.
[00:01:41] Shea Drefs: Yeah. Not too far from yourself?
[00:01:43] Billie Tarascio: No. No. And how long have you been with Custody Exchange?
[00:01:46] Shea Drefs: I've been with Custody Exchange for four years and we're a, a fully remote company, so we're not all on Bisbee.
Um, our founders in Utah and the rest of us are sprinkled throughout the [00:02:00] Americas.
[00:02:00] Billie Tarascio: Nice, nice. Okay, so tell me, what is custody exchange?
[00:02:07] Shea Drefs: So Custody Exchange is a co-parenting app, an online app. So you find us at custodyexchange.com versus in the app stores. You can actually download it straight from custody exchange.com.
Um, and we basically try to be there for co-parent from the beginning of their separation to when their child becomes an adult. So we have a variety of tools, um, some that you're gonna use, um, at the beginning when you're coming up with your parenting plan. How is this gonna look now that we're separating?
And then some that you can use for years to come, like messaging, um, which comes with little added benefits like hostility monitors, so that it will ping you if you're about to send something that maybe you shouldn't be saying so that you have time to rethink it. Um, like an expense tracker. [00:03:00] And, a journal so that you can be writing down what's going on, , in case you ever do have a dispute and wanna look back on that and have some evidence.
So a wide variety of tools all bundled into one, um, to make co-parenting a little bit easier.
[00:03:14] Billie Tarascio: Got it. And what is the backstory of how it came to be?
[00:03:19] Shea Drefs: So our founder and president is Ben Coltran. Um, and he is a, a software developer. That's his background and so he was approached by, a family lawyer in California who said there's a lot of room, for improvement.
Technology-wise in this industry, the lawyer, he's no longer with our company, but what he was most interested in was, um, parenting time calculations. Um, so to get an exact calculation of, you know, dad has 43%, mom has 57%, um, can take a lot of heavy lifting if you're gonna [00:04:00] do that manually, because you wanna go in and you look at each holiday and each one time change that parents make, the summer schedule.
So, um, one thing that custody exchange does is once you input a schedule, choose all your settings, it instantly tells you what the, the percentage breakdown is. You can look at the hourly parenting time, the overnight parenting time. So that was one of the big factors in, in why we got started but since then we've developed all these different tools as we hear from, from users about what would be beneficial in their situation.
[00:04:36] Billie Tarascio: Fantastic.
[00:04:37] Shea Drefs: So yeah, we've been around for, um, what, 18 years.
[00:04:41] Billie Tarascio: Wow. Wow. Not new. I learned about the company when, um, an opposing party to my client used it to create a sample, draft parenting plan, and then she brought it to me, and I'll tell you, it was a pretty comprehensive family, uh, parenting plan.
[00:04:58] Shea Drefs: That's good to hear.
And um, we [00:05:00] actually just did a pretty big overhaul. Um, we're constantly revisiting the tool and seeing what can we update. Um, and especially in the parenting plan, for example, we had to add a lot of different provisions that you can choose from now about pandemics, and what happens when there is lockdown and those sorts of things.
All sorts of language that has come up recently and, um, the nice thing about the parenting plan is, so it has all these kind of preset provisions that you can choose from. You can skip ones that don't apply to you. You can fill in blanks for like, how many hours you want.
Um, For example, like the parent has to respond to your questions within 24 hour. You, you choose. Um, but then it also has just blanks for you to write your own custom provision. So it's got that combination of. Flexibility plus guidance, so yeah. Yes, parenting plan is very, very popular.
[00:05:55] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. I think the, the thing that I would encourage [00:06:00] people to do is when you look at model parenting plans, they are fairly basic and sometimes there's advantages to having a fairly basic parenting plan, and sometimes you really need a much more comprehensive parenting plan.
And I, I love that custody exchange really prompts those discussions. Like for instance, I saw a provision about social media access for kids at a certain age. That's not in most of the model parenting plans, but it is something that many parents might want to think about or, and it'll spur discussions. That's so true.
[00:06:37] Shea Drefs: Yeah. Um, yeah. What's really nice about it is that when, so when you're on like the parenting plan home screen, everything's organized by category, so it does give you this great framework for sitting down and talking about, okay, let's, first, let's talk about our legal decision making, then let's talk about our parenting time.
Oh, we shouldn't forget to talk [00:07:00] about exchanges and how will those look and Yeah, and if there's one that doesn't apply to you, like, um, exchanges by flight, if, you know, if you are not a long distance co-parenting couple, then you won't need to, you can skip that entirely. But yeah, it has, it, it's great for just structuring discussions, even if you don't decide to put those things into your, your formal plan.
A general plan.
[00:07:24] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. What's the pricing?
[00:07:26] Shea Drefs: let me actually go to our pricing page to make sure that I get this exactly right. Um, so we have parent, we have plans for parents and we have plans for professionals as well. Um, but so for parents, we have. Well, three levels. The first one being you can try it out for free.
Um, and there's gonna be some limits on that, like you can't print but then we have a silver level, so that's $17 a month or $97 a year. And then gold is $27 a month or [00:08:00] $147 a year. Um, gold being the highest level, so you have access to everything. Um, and silver. You know, just a, a slightly, um, lower price point.
So you, you wouldn't have access to things like, um, the parenting time, which I just talked about, the calculations. Um, but you can go in and build a full schedule. Um, you just wouldn't have that, that percentage breakdown. Um, and a couple other limitations like that, but few different options.
[00:08:29] Billie Tarascio: Got it. And then for professionals .
Let's go into professionals. Um, so for, for professionals, again, you've got the, the three different options. You can try it for free. The professional silver level, $27 a month or $197 a year. Professional gold, $37 a month or $297 a year. And for professionals, um, the big advantage is the, the tools are more or less the same. Um, but for [00:09:00] professionals you can have an unlimited number of clients. Um, whereas if you're a parent, you're just gonna have access to your own information. But the professionals and the clients can link, um, so that they're able to collaborate virtually. And also co-parents can link, um, so that they could collaborate virtually, which is huge because it cuts down on text messages, phone calls.
In-person conversations. A lot of that becomes like automatic notifications. Um, mom entered an expense, dad entered an expense, mom sent a message. So you don't have to constantly be pinging each other.
Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I love it. Um, Shay, how did you get into this?
[00:09:43] Shea Drefs: Ah, my story's interesting. I was actually, um, I was living in Guatemala and, um, teaching English, and looking for work, that would be remote, since there weren't, was a lot of [00:10:00] opportunities in Guatemala.
And so that's how I found my way. Here I am, I am, um, in the communications team, um, writing and market. Um, and so my background's more in journalism, in writing and communications. Um, so this is my first time working in the legal or custody space. Um, I've learned a lot in four years, but I'm really enjoying it.
[00:10:22] Billie Tarascio: Fantastic. Well, Shay, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really enjoyed learning more about custody exchange. Like I said, I had heard of it, but it's great to understand more about it. If you all have enjoyed this episode, make sure to like it, leave a review, download it, forward it to your friends, and give custody exchange a try.
Thank you so much, and we will talk soon. [00:11:00]