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How iMessage Updates Will Impact Co-Parent Communication

The impact that Apple’s latest iPhone software update, iOS 16, could have on co-parents who rely on iMessage to communicate.

A recent announcement from Apple is causing some concern for those who rely on text messages for documentation purposes. For co-parents who do not use an unalterable form of communication, like TalkingParents, iPhone’s upcoming software update could throw a wrench into custody agreements, parenting plans, and the evidence gathering process for court.

What will the upcoming software update do?

At Apple’s annual developer’s conference on June 6th, 2022, the company announced that iPhone software update, iOS 16, will include options to edit and unsend texts in iMessage. This update will also allow you to mark threads as unread. According to Apple, these options will be available to iMessage users on iOS 16 for up to 15 minutes after a text is sent.  

When using the unsend feature, message recipients on iOS 16 will get an alert in the iMessage thread saying a message was unsent. If the recipient is still using an older version of iOS, they may still be able to see the message you technically used the ‘unsend’ feature on, and Apple will give you an alert warning you as such. 

When using the edit feature, message recipients on iOS 16 will not be notified that an iMessage was altered. Similar to the unsend feature, if you iMessage someone who is still on an older version of iOS, they will not see your edits, just the original message. However, with the edit feature, Apple will not alert you that your changes did not go through to the recipient.

How will iOS 16 impact parents with shared custody? 

For parents with custody agreements and parenting plans in place, iPhone’s upcoming software update leaves room for the he said/she said scenarios to get considerably worse. Many current iMessage features, such as the ability to delete messages and turn off read receipts, already open the door for high-conflict situations to unfold.  

For example, having the ability to delete iMessages allows parents in joint custody arrangements to claim that they never received a message from their co-parent in the first place. Additionally, parents can turn off their read receipts and claim that they didn’t see a message from their co-parent in time, or perhaps, never even saw the message at all.

With the upcoming iPhone software update, parents on iOS 16 will face additional challenges. For many co-parents in high-conflict relationships, the ability to unsend, edit, and mark messages as unread could cause chaotic and confusing back-and-forths, with no room for accountability.  

Parenting plans often include communication rules, such as what co-parents should or should not message about, how often they should message, and how long they have to reply to a message before they are considered non-responsive. iOS 16 has the potential to complicate these requirements considerably for co-parents who do not exclusively use an unalterable form of messaging.  

With the ability to unsend messages, co-parents held to a certain standard of communication by their parenting plan or custody agreement will have the ability to rescind texts that are not in compliance. With the ability to edit messages, co-parents held to relaying certain information by certain times can change the content of the message after the fact, giving the appearance that they followed the agreement. With the ability to mark messages as unread, co-parents held to responding to messages within a specific timeframe can look at messages and then give the appearance that they never saw it.  

What can a parent with shared custody do to combat accountability issues posed by iOS 16?  

Apple has not yet announced a release date for the latest iPhone software update, but it’s expected to rollout sometime in September of this year. If you are a co-parent who has concerns about the changes iOS 16 will bring to iMessage, you need to sign up for a service that offers unalterable communication methods.  

TalkingParents is a leading co-parenting communication service that includes a Secure Messaging feature. This tool allows you and your co-parent to send and receive messages that cannot be edited or deleted. All messages and read receipts are also timestamped, enabling you to easily see when your co-parent sent or viewed a message. This functionality cannot be turned off or changed in any way, keeping all messages between co-parents accountable and unalterable.

All communications made through our Secure Messaging feature become a part of your Unalterable Records. Your Records cannot ever be modified, and they are admissible in courtrooms across the country. Each Record includes a Digital Signature and unique, 16-digit Authentication Code that verifies it as genuine and unaltered.  

Using a feature like Secure Messaging is the only way to ensure that text strings between you and your co-parent remain 100% intact. Unalterable messaging tools ensure that there will never be room for he said/she said disagreements. This keeps both parents accountable for every message they send or receive and gives each of them a course of action in court, should it come to that.  

What if my co-parent refuses to use an unalterable form of communication? 

If consistent, respectable communication is a frequent issue for your co-parent and they refuse to sign up for a service like TalkingParents, you can try to get the custody agreement and/or parenting plan altered. Speak with an experienced lawyer to determine what evidence can be gathered, or actions taken, to secure a court order for the use of a co-parenting communication service. 

You can also work with your lawyer and the courts to get additional messaging stipulations added to your parenting agreement in light of iOS 16. It’s quite possible that this latest iPhone software update will be involved in child custody cases moving forward, so it’s never too early to start making your case for an unalterable messaging service.

Looking for other forms of unalterable communication with your co-parent? 

In addition to Secure Messaging, TalkingParents offers a variety of secure, accountable communication methods for co-parents. The following features are all kept as part of your Unalterable Records, which are available as PDFs or in print: 

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