Document Everything During Your Divorce or Custody Case
Get in the habit of documenting everything you communicate to your spouse during your divorce or custody.
You’ll be glad you did.
Use Technology to Help Document
With technology these days it’s easy to create the kind of documentation you need. Use text messages instead of phone conversations to record pertinent details it might be disputed later during your divorce proceedings. Use email instead of picking up the phone. This will allow your lawyer or the court to really see what happened if it comes up.
For example in custody scenarios, if you are dropping off your kids with your ex and you have problems with your spouse showing up to either drop off the kids, documented that in a text conversation. Send texts stating what is going on. “I’m here as we discussed. Where are you? It’s 6:15 and I’ve been here with the kids for 20 minutes.”
The text response or lack of a response can show a judge how things really are instead of you two getting into a ‘he said’, ‘she said’ exchange.
There are applications for your computer and phone the let you copy the text messages out of your phone and into documents on your computer. Use these apps to keep a running log of the text conversations, if you think there’s any chance that these issues will come up in court.
Document Financial Transactions
Don’t make payments to your spouse in cash use a check or some other documented type of transaction. And make sure that you use the memo capability available so that it’s clear what the payment is for, whether it’s for splitting child expenses or whatever.
Send financial bills like your credit card company does. If you and your spouse are supposed to be splitting expenses and you need to ask your spouse for their half of the payments, you need to document that by giving them some sort of periodic statement, preferably backed up with receipts on what you spent the money on.
So if you take your child to the dentist and it cost $120 get the receipt. Send your wife a bill for her portion $60. Include the date and make note of when she reimburses you or not.
There are a couple good reasons to do all this documentation. First, it can clear up any misunderstandings quickly. It keeps them from escalating. We all have lapses in memory and I bet your spouse has a lot of lamps is when it comes to financial matters. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re in front of a judge with he said she said situation.
Next credibility. The courts are used to people who stretch the truth, sometimes stretching it quite a bit if you know what I mean. OK, lying. They’ve gotten in the habit of not believing anybody because of this. Documentation is a different matter. If you come with documentation, the court will at least give you the benefit of the doubt.
If your spouse is disorganized doesn’t have good capabilities to document you’re going to look like the good guy. For being responsible and having documentation.
Record Voice & Video
Sometimes documentation means recording conversations and taking videos. You need to check with the laws in your state before you proceed with this tactic. We’re in South Carolina, so generally it’s OK to make a recording as long as you’re one of the people in the recording. This is something you really need to check out with your lawyer. If you inadvertently make an illegal recording you can really try to use it in court, it can backfire on you.
Your smart phone has easy capability to record conversations . some phones can even record the conversation and make a reasonably accurate text transcript of the conversation. How’s that for amazing technology. In fact, I wrote this article using speech to text conversion on my computer so I know it can be easily done.
Videos are easy to make also. The trouble is that video takes up a lot of storage space in the memory of your cell phone or computer and the video files quickly become unwieldy and hard to edit. Voice recordings tend to be much easier to work with.
Of course, sometimes nothing beats a picture in certain situations, so video or photos go along ways to document in special circumstances.
Go out and buy one of those thumb drive things that has a few gigabytes of storage on it. Use it to store all the relevant documents on your computer, cell phone. Then you can easily share them with your attorney or the court for that matter. To be used in court you may need to get transcripts of the audio portion.
Documentation Makes The Best Evidence
Hopefully, you will never have to use any of your documentation as evidence in a trial. However, if you do have documentation will be crucial your success. If you’re not going to trial, you will be going through negotiation in your divorce or custody case. Having organized accurate documentation will give you a strong position to negotiate from.
Best of luck in divorce or custody proceeding or whatever you’re going through. I hope this article was helpful.
Please check out South Carolina divorce road map to get the big picture only where your divorce is heading.