A daily journal or diary of your post-divorce child custody experiences may prove to be helpful in court. As a stand-alone item, it’s not likely to provide any help, after all, anyone can write anything in a daily journal and claim it to be a factual account. Even if you do it “the right way” – there is no guarantee that it will serve as a useful aid. One thing, however, is guaranteed. Not doing one will always fail to help.
A daily child custody journal or child custody diary along with supporting evidence or additional information can be a very compelling view inside your high-conflict divorce and child custody matter. Everyone involved in such a situation should take the time to do it. In your daily child custody journal, you should account for the following experiences as a minimum:
- Contact attempts that have been denied
- Phone calls that go unanswered, and/or voice mails for the children not returned
- Every single time that the other parent violates the child custody order
- Every single time the kiddos have remarkable school outcome, including: good or bad grades, tardies, absences, missed parent-teacher conferences, disciplinary issues
- Any time the parent does something on behalf of the kid (takes to doctor, dentist, scouts, church, etc.); include names of third-party objective references such as teachers, coaches, youth pastor, etc., who can verify parental involvement in child’s life
- Notes of all child custody exchanges to include the child’s demeanor, adverse behaviors, other problems with the exchange (e.g. other parent changed location, time, caused a ruckus, attempted to deny access, made excuses for a failure to appear, etc.)
Think in terms of what you would like to tell a judge sometime down the road. Also consider how you would substantiate your claims. If you want to be able to say, “Your Honor, the other parent is denying my children their court-ordered access to me…”, then you want to also be able to back that up with, “…in the month of June, I attempted telephone contact 61 times, and was able to make contact only once….” or whatever the actual details are. If you have it in a journal that you have kept daily, then it offers a lot more credibility.
Daily journaling is important, even if your child custody journal entry is, “There was nothing notable to report today.”
If you want to be able to say “Your Honor, I’ve been heavily involved in the children’s lives…”, you want to be also be able to back that up with, “…In the past six months, I’ve taken them to the doctor twice — here is an affidavit from the Doctor’s office — I’ve taken them to church youth activities on a weekly basis — here is an affidavit from the Youth Pastor of our church — I’ve taken them to soccer practices and games on a weekly basis — here is an affidavit from the soccer coach…” and so forth.
A daily journal will not only help you have credibility with the judge, but it will also help your attorney prepare your case when it goes to mediation or to trial. You give the attorney the “bullets,” and then trust him/her to point and “shoot” at the right time. If you don’t trust your attorney to do this, then you need to change attorneys.
Building Relationships to Strengthen Child Custody