What are 15 Things to Document in Your Divorce Journal?

What are 15 Things to Document in Your Divorce Journal?

Posted on October 14th, 2015

Keeping up with all of the fine details in a divorce can be challenging and sometimes feel impossible. However, keeping a divorce journal of your daily activities that lead up to a court hearing can ease some of that stress.  Below is an excerpt from The Nevada Divorce Guide that explains in detail what your should be logging daily in a divorce journal as well as different ways you can manage this journal. Gloria Petroni, a Reno divorce lawyer, showcases 15 things you should include in a divorce journal and provides examples of where you can keep this information.

What may seem like an insignificant event today can become a life-altering fact in your divorce proceedings. Many people lose track of important dates that will become very important. If your spouse is better at keeping track of what happened to whom and when, they will have an advantage over you when it comes to negotiating the terms of your divorce. By keeping your own divorce journal, you’ll build your own body of evidence to back up your claims before the judge.

15 Things You Should Log

Everything you do on a daily basis

  • Record details that seem both significant and insignificant
  • Be factual
  • Do NOT include your private thoughts in it as it may be used as evidence in court

Copies of communications with your lawyer

  • Everything you send your lawyer
  • Everything your lawyer sends you
  • Phone logs documenting calls with your lawyer,including dates and times
  • Summaries of verbal communications with your lawyer
  • Records of failed attempts to communicate with your lawyer

Important dates regarding the divorce itself

  • Dates prior to separation
  • Date of separation
  • Dates bank accounts are split
  • Counseling dates
  • Filing dates

Details about parenting your child(ren)

  • When and what you feed them
  • Getting up with them during the night
  • Taking them to appointments
  • Playtime (i.e.,playtime activities,where,when and for how long)
  • Conversations you had with them

Any documentation you acquire that can back up your parenting time notes

  • Restaurant receipts showing purchase of kids meals
  • Other receipts showing where, when, and what you were doing
  • Doctor’s notes or co-pay receipts 
  • Pictures from play days
  • Emails,texts and voicemails

Details about trading off the child(ren) with your spouse

  • Where did you meet and when
  • Were you or your spouse on time, late, cancelled
  • Emails or texts documenting parenting time plan and any changes or your spouse make those plans (i.e., “I’m running late but will be there in 30 minutes.”)

Pictures of your parenting activities

  • Include yourself in the pictures so your involvement is documented
  • Include date and timestamps 

Screen shots or scans of calendar pages that document your plans and activities

Non-parenting time activities to record where you were and when

  • Time at work
  • Time traveling
  • Leisure activities
  • Whom you were with

Your spouse’s activities

  • When they had child(ren) or cared for them at home with you (if are still living together)
  • Bills they paid or didn’t pay 
  • New debts they have incurred 
  • Property they’ve removed without permission 
  • Details of inappropriate behavior in front of your child(ren)
  • Things they have done to jeopardize your parenting record (i.e.,turning off your alarm and then reporting that you didn’t get up to take the kids to school, dropping your cell phone in a tall glass of water then reporting your failed to answer texts even when they knew your phone was out of commission, etc.)
  • Threats they have made your to your child(ren)
  • Any time a support payment is late
  • Any time your spouse is late for or cancels a visit with your child(ren)

Parental care activities while at home (if you are still living together)

  • Who prepared meals
  • Who took the kids to school or cared for them during the day
  • Who dressed them, bathed them, brushed their teeth,worked on potty training, etc.
  • How your children were not picked up at their scheduled time

Witnesses to your parenting activities

  • Did anyone visit at home while you cared for your child(ren)
  • Didi Meet any friends at the park Who Can Vouch For You
  • Did family or friends come over frame with you
  • Include names and contact information for each person in the event they are called as witnesses in a custody trial

Conversations with your child(ren)

  • What do you talk about with your child(ren)
  • What concerns have they expressed about the divorce
  • What did they say and when did they say it
  • If your child just beginning to talk,what new words are they saying and when did they say them
  • Remember that you will not be able to say in court what your children said as that is hearsay and inadmissible

Conversations with your spouse

  • What did you talk about
  • Did you make any agreements
  • Were changes made to existing agreements or plans
  • What reasons were given for the changes 
  • Were there any threats made
  • Did they reveal anything damaging about their activities or behaviors

Calendar

  • Keep a general section in calendar format that shows an overview of all your parenting time and activities; you can record the details elsewhere, but this can give a judge a good overview

Options for Keeping a Secure Divorce Journal

In addition to know what you should be tracking in a divorce journal, it is important to assess how your should be keeping this information stored. Here are several options for keeping a journal in a secure location that cannot be compromised. Keep in mind that security depends on you. You must password protect your computer, your phone, your files—EVERYTHING that contains information you want to keep secure. Do NOT use a password your spouse could easily guess and gain access to your records! And if you use an app, be sure your phone or tablet is NOT connected to your spouse’s. The last thing you need is for the divorce journal app you just downloaded to appear on his screen. Make sure it’s all secure!

OPTIMAL

The Online Parenting Time Information Manager and Activity Log OPTIMAL is “a unique online service that can help you win custody, change custody, or reduce child support.” It can be used by one or both parents and is designed to deliver forms and reports specifically for use in presenting your case to the court. Key functions include: calendar, email, time tracker, journal, support money tool, and a statistics generator. 

CustodyXChange

CustodyXChange is similar to OPTIMAL but focuses primarily on the journaling function. The program stamps each entry with the date and time, and allows you tadd notes. The journal can be printed or exported to a Word or PDF file for easy emailing. 

EXCEL

Some parents simply create an Excel file and use the columns across the top to create specific categories (like the ones in the checklist). They then use the rows to record each day’s date and the details about what happened in each of the appropriate columns. Remember to password protect and backup your documents if you decide to go this route.

Word or Other Word Processing Programs

If you like to use a free flow format in a chronological order without worrying about categorizing your details, you can use a simple program like Microsoft Word to record your journal entries. Remember to password protect and backup your documents if you decide to go this route.

The Nevada Divorce Guide

Gloria Petroni has published an entire guide, devoted to helping those who are going through a divorce. In The Nevada Divorce Guide, she provides many different checklists and actions to take when going through such a hard time. With over 34 years’ experience as a Reno family law attorney, Gloria Petroni is someone you can trust to guide you through a traumatic and emotional time in your life. Copies are available for purchase at the Sundance Bookstore in Reno, Nevada. Stop in today or fill out a form online to order the book. You can read check out other excerpts from the guide below:

A Marriage Counseling Checklist- Is Counseling Right for You?

How to Handle Child Custody Issues?