FAMILY LAW BLOG
FAMILY LAW BLOG
Tools of the Trade: How Calendars Can Help You Win Your Family Law Case
By: Divorce Attorney Danielle Britt Mays
My calendar is my lifeline. I don’t know where I would be without the calendar on my phone. It helps me keep up with client deadlines, trials and hearings, family events, beauty appointments, and life appointments. It is synced to my computer, my tablet, and my Alexa so that I can stay on top of my calendar wherever I am.
Calendars can also be your lifeline during and after your family law case. Whether you like technology or prefer paper, a calendar is an extremely effective tool to explain your situation to the judge and to help your attorney reach your desired result. A calendar can also help you after your case is final and may be the key to winning any future case if your ex refuses to follow the court orders.
While it doesn’t matter if you prefer technology or paper, these tips work best with a “month at a glance” calendar. A monthly calendar keeps you focused on the big picture, keeps your notes short, ensures you write down only the important details, and can help show the judge either a pattern of behavior or a timeline of events. You can find a great paper one on Amazon here. Or here, if you are a dog lover like me (the dog calendar is a 5 year calendar! If you are not a dog person, you can find other multi-year calendars on Amazon).
If you like technology, you can use your phone calendar, Outlook calendar, Google calendar, or any other free monthly online calendar. If you want something specifically for co-parenting (especially if you and your ex have difficulty co-parenting), you may want to pay for the calendars and app designed specifically for co-parenting. Our Family Wizard is well vetted and used frequently in the Metro Atlanta courts. Also check out CustodyXChange,AppClose: Co-Parenting App, and Co-Parently; each has a free version and a subscription version so you can try out before you subscribe.
No matter which calendar you choose, you MUST make sure that you can easily print off or save a monthly view of your appointments/notes on your online calendar before you start the calendar or it won’t be as effective (screenshots are fine as long as you can get them to your attorney, who will then show them to the judge.)
Here are ways you can help your attorney win your family law case using a calendar before, during, and after your case:
Calendar the events in your case as they occur.
This is number 1 on the list, because this is most important way a calendar can help your attorney win your family law case. Your ex is not paying child support? Use a calendar to track payments due and payments paid (color code payments due in Red and payment paid in Green). Your children are making statements about your ex that are concerning you? Write down what your children said in your calendar. Your ex is not following the parenting plan? Put a short note on your calendar detailing what happened on the date that it happened.
Why does this tip get the number 1 spot? Because you are creating credible evidence that can be used by your attorney at trial. It also forces you to be precise about the issues in your case because there is just not a lot of room to write or type out what happened. Many clients think that if they journal something and write down every detail of a problem with their ex, it will help win their case; however, it often hurts their case because the judge (and your attorney) doesn’t have time to weed through the details of your stream of consciousness journaling to get to the issue. You want to be short and sweet with the judge and get to the point of what happened; a calendar helps you do that. Don’t stop journaling. You can always testify about the specific details of what happened if an explanation is needed, and your journal will help you with the specific details.
Calendar your Parenting Plan.
At the end of your case, the Judge will enter a Parenting Plan Order setting out the schedule of parenting time between you and your ex. Do not procrastinate; when you get your Order, mark your and your ex’s parenting time for the next year on a month-at-a-glance calendar. This works especially well if you are a visual person. Try using color coding (for example, red for your parenting time and blue for your ex’s parenting time). Calendaring your Parenting Plan Order is extremely helpful when you are trying to schedule vacations, camps, daycare, and extracurricular activities. This technique can also help young children understand their new routine after separation or with a new court order. In fact, here’s a calendar that is made especially for children that are having a hard time adjusting to their new schedule: Mighty and Bright Custody Calendar for Kids.
By the way, calendaring your Parenting Plan also serves a second purpose should problems arise with your ex. You can use that same calendar to write down any problems that arise so that you can use your calendar to prove your case later, if needed (see the number 1 way calendars can help you win your family law case above).
Use calendars to Co-Parent.
Children’s schedules are crazy – especially as they get older. If you and your ex are amicable and technologically savvy, you can use online calendars to share parenting time schedules to make sure everyone knows the children’s scheduled activities and appointments. Or, you can keep it simple and create events for all of your children’s doctor’s appointments, school responsibilities, and extracurricular activities on your online calendar and “invite” your ex via email to the event. This method may also be helpful for co-parents that are technologically savvy but not amicable since by sending regular “invites”, both parents know the children’s schedules without having to talk via text or email regularly – keeping arguments, attitudes, and egos out of the equation.
Calendar your case deadlines, appointments, and court dates.
Your family law case will likely feel like a part-time job. You will need to produce documents and information by certain deadlines to help your attorney. You will have to miss actual work to attend hearings, mediation, depositions, and the trial. You will have to meet with your attorney regularly, either by email, phone, or in person. It is important to stay organized and write all of your case obligations and deadlines in a calendar. That way, you can be sure to be where you need to be, when you need to be there, and with the information and documents you need to make sure your attorney has everything they need to win your family law case.