One of the fun things about approaching year-end is tossing the old calendar and starting fresh for the new year. If you are in the midst of divorce and child custody proceedings, we suggest you hold on to your calendar. It contains a wealth of information that could help you during and after the divorce, especially with matters relating to child custody. A calendar can back up and prove a statement you make in court that may contradict what your ex is saying now.
It can also serve to refresh your memory. Divorce is stressful, and it is easy to become confused about details. It’s those details that can usually help or hinder your case. What weekends in May did your child spend with your ex? You have no idea. But your calendar will serve as a reminder and as evidence.
A well-kept calendar should tell you what your child was doing, where he or she was doing it, and with whom. For example, if your child attended four birthday parties during a specific period, it can be assumed he or she will continue receiving invitations in return, necessitating the purchase of gifts. This information is helpful is establishing a budget for child support.
Another category for your calendar are doctors’ visits. How often does your child see one? What are the costs? Again, this is vital financial information. It also keeps the other parent current on any health problems.
Another issue is the time the child spends with the custodial parent and what activities happen. Visits to museums, special classes, dinners out on weekends, or regular school outings can be expensive. With a calendar to back up all these details, you are in an excellent position to ask for sufficient child support.
The Power of Documentation
There is a common truism that is summed up by, “Put it in writing.” The reason the written word is important is because our memory is fallible, and because other people may obscure actual facts. Proper documentation can cut through a lot of misinformation. Here are tips on keeping a useful calendar.
- If in doubt, document it, regardless of how small the details. If you have a custody schedule in place, note with whom the child spends his or her time. This could be critical in future custody disputes.
- A calendar not only documents the child’s whereabous, but it will also serve as a reminder to you. Write yourself notes, such as, “ex unable to pick up Johnny on Wednesday; I agreed to do so instead.” Such a reminder ensures that you do not violate any agreement. And don’t assume you will automatically remember. Better safe than sorry.
- Whether your calendar is electronic or old-fashioned paper, always have it with you. If an issue arises while your child has a game at school, it is easy to tell yourself that you’ll make a note of it later. Write it down now so there is no chance of your forgetting to inform your ex.
Almost every custody agreement will contain a visitation schedule regarding the children. This schedule spells out in detail the time each parent will spend with the child. This will include summer and winter school breaks, holidays, weekends, and other agreed-upon time.
The schedule came become confusing and hierarchical. For example, if a birthday that has been assigned to the mother falls during a visitation with the father, the birthday with mom takes precedent, and the child will spend it with her before returning to the father.
To keep all of these details straight, a schedule, properly submitted to the court, is necessary. For a parent to remain on top of all the facts, a calendar can be a lifesaver.
Why Keep A Visitation Schedule?
Custody schedules are court-mandated, while visitation schedules can be optional. They should, however, still be kept and utilized. A visitation schedule provides you with instant information about where your child should be at any particular time. This includes regular visitations as well as special occasions, such as an event that each parent would like to attend. Having a schedule eliminates any argument about, “You didn’t tell me he had a playoff after school on Thursday.” The information is there in writing. End of argument. A visitation schedule permits you to make changes if both parties agree.
A schedule can help keep track of non-legal events, such as tests and doctor’s appointments, etc. While both parents should be aware of these events, it is easy for one of them to forget to inform the other. If the child has an important exam on Monday and is spending the weekend with the non-custodial parent, said parent will be unable to help the child study if he or she is unaware of what is happening. As a general rule of thumb, if in doubt, note it on the schedule.
Post-divorce child-raising can be difficult. It is easy for parents to forget details, either by accident or “on purpose.” A written calendar can be available to both parties, leaving no room for doubt who the child should be with at what time.
It can save a lot of arguments between the parents and in front of the court.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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