Are you well-documented?
Funny question? Not so much when you are in a bind and wish you had proof, something in writing.
Someone shared with me, and I will share with you: document everything. Keep copies of everything. Keep a journal. As painful as it may be, you might one day need it. And when the stress and pressure are on, we can’t remember the details.
I kept every email, every text, every hand written note, and took notes on verbal conversations. Even with some of these things, especially your own notes or your journal, it will be a case of he said, she said. If you show up with binders full of documents, you will have the upper hand. I still have a storage tote full of these items, and still keep new ones. I haven’t had the need for any of them lately, but I would much rather have them and not need them than to be unprepared.
We were court ordered to have visits with a custody evaluator, and subsequently, a parenting coordinator. At one point, my ex was refusing to allow my children contact with me when they were with him. Of course, he demanded it when the tables were turned. I kept a calendar where I documented every time I tried to reach my children while they were at their father’s. I wrote the time on the day on the calendar and color coded each time with the response I got: no answer; he answered and hung up; he answered and told me I couldn’t speak with the kids; etc. Some days it filled the square of the day on the calendar. I then kept any corresponding documentation, email, text, or note, attached to the calendar. For example, I would call and get no answer perhaps three different times. I would call every 30-60 minutes (it’s a school night, so they should be home). On say the 3rd or 4th time, he would answer screaming at me to never call his house from a bar, as I am sitting in my living room on the couch, and he would hang up. He would then send me a text stating the same. I documented it and attached a printout of the text to my calendar. When I did get to talk to the kids, he stood beside them listening or telling them what to say, or my favorite, making so much noise that the kids nor I could hear the other. There are many, many, many examples I could share, but I think you get the idea.
When I walked into the custody evaluator with my binder of monthly calendars with corresponding documentation, my ex and the evaluator were shocked.
The result? It actually states in my final divorce decree that each parent is to have daily, yes daily, unfettered telephonic communication with the children. Yay me. Did that fix it? Not 100%, but it sure happens way, way less often, which is beneficial for both parents and our children.
Post note: Yes, I bought my son, the older of the two children going between parent’s homes, a cell phone. The only thing that did was cause my son more pain as his father was always taking it away, so he couldn’t contact his mom.
Donna D17 Originally published 5/14