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.
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.
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.