Why It’s So Important To Take Notes During a Custody Case

Why It’s So Important To Take Notes During a Custody Case

One of the most important things to make a practice of doing when going through a divorce or a custody battle is to take good notes and keep good records. This means keeping receipts, bank and credit card statements, and text messages. It also means taking note of every interaction you have with your ex, whether in person or on the phone.

Tech Can Help

Technology is on your side when it comes to taking notes and keeping records. If you prefer to take notes by hand, you can use your phone to take a picture of the notes and then save them to your computer or to the cloud. There are apps such as Evernote that will automatically digitize your handwriting so that it becomes searchable, and you can then organize your notes by topic, date, and location. The most important thing is that you keep clear and organized records.  Be sure to document the phone calls and in-person meetings after they happened—including the exact date and time -when and where they happened, and what was said.

It’s also important to save the text messages and emails you exchange with your ex. While your phone and email client likely do this automatically, you should take care to make a backup yourself. Export every email to a PDF (make sure that it captures the time stamp), and save the PDF to a local hard drive and to the cloud. Take screenshots of every text message and again save them to your hard drive and to the cloud. You can even create a special email address for just this purpose and then forward the text messages to yourself at that email.  So, if for any reason your cellphone “disappears” or dies, you’re covered. 

BONUS TIP: If you’re saving a text message from your ex, you can delete your ex’s contact information from your phone so that your screenshot shows your ex’s phone number rather than their name, proving that the text is from who you say it’s from.

Good Notes Are More Powerful Than He-Said-She-Said

It is important to always remain calm and respectful when dealing with your ex, even if they’re not offering you the same in return. Take note of any bad behavior on their part, and if you have to alert a judge or hearing officer about it, you’ll have the notes to back it up. Don’t let it become a game of he-said-she-said—implement the practices described here and have the documentation to support your claims.

Have a question about this or any other Family Law matter? Give us a call at 914.615.9058.

Litigation vs. Mediation in Divorce

Litigation vs. Mediation in Divorce

Litigation vs. Mediation in Divorce

A nearly universal assumption in our society is that when a couple divorces, they are required to go to court. After all, this has traditionally been the case. Now couples who are contemplating divorce have different options about how to proceed. One of the most popular—and effective—is mediation.

Which one a couple should pursue depends on a number of circumstances that include the reasons for the separation, the willingness of each partner to work with the other to reach an agreement, and whether or not the divorce itself is unilateral. Just as no two marriages are alike, divorces have their own individual complexities and nuances.

Litigation: When Is It Recommended?

Although there are several different alternatives like mediation and collaborative divorce, litigation remains the most common divorce method. It is important to remember that going the litigation route does not automatically mean a courtroom battle between you and your spouse. The reality is that the majority of all divorce cases reach a settlement agreement out of court.

Litigation may be the better option for your divorce action if:

  • One party does not want the divorce: This situation is adversarial by its very nature. The cooperation and voluntary disclosure of all financial information required for mediation to work is not likely to be forthcoming.
  • You and your spouse cannot agree on key issues: Child custody and support, alimony, and division of assets and debts are central parts of any divorce action. If you are unable to reach a settlement on one or all of them, litigation will be necessary.

Mediation: When Is It Recommended?

In mediation, a neutral third party known as a mediator helps a divorcing couple come to an agreement on every aspect of their divorce. This option is growing in popularity, and studies suggest that couples are more likely to comply with the terms of their divorce settlement if they have helped to create it, which mediation enables.

Mediation is a preferred option for your divorce action if:

  • Both parties are amicable and willing to compromise:You may not agree on absolutely everything, but a positive attitude and skilled mediator will help you and your spouse compromise on issues you may still disagree about.
  • Children are involved: Mediation makes the divorce process less stressful for children because there will be minimal anger and hostility involved. The presence of children make it necessary for parents to maintain a relationship after the divorce is finalized, so mediation should be pursued if at all possible.

The benefits of mediation include a better relationship with your ex-spouse afterwards, a less expensive and more efficient divorce process, and the ability to control your own divorce because you are making the decisions—not a judge.

If you are planning to divorce and wondering whether litigation or mediation is more appropriate for your circumstances, contact the Law Offices of Elizabeth A. Douglas today. We will provide you with legal advice, answer your questions and help you review your options when it comes to the best way of concluding your marriage.