A great client is the client that documents. An even better client is the client that documents meticulously and consistently.
I always advise my clients with minor children to immediately go to Wal-Mart and buy a few notebooks. Any ‘ol notebooks will do so long as you actually use them. Designate one as your “child support payment" notebook. Make four columns: Date, Amount of Payment Due, Amount of Payment Received, Total Amount Owed. Keep impeccable records of when you receive child support payments and how far behind the opposing party falls in his or her payments to you.
Designate another as “medical expenses" notebook and keep track of when the expense was incurred on behalf of the child or children and when you provided the opposing party with written notice of the amount he or she owes to you. Keep a copy of the letter.
Designate another notebook as “visitation" and keep track of how often he or she is late picking up or dropping off the child(ren) or when he or she just does not exercise visitation at all. Keep track of the details of visitation.
You can never go wrong with documenting when you are in the throws of a child custody or child support case for a couple of reasons:
The client who documents everything and develops an organized system from the onset sets a precedent for themselves and the court is always impressed with an organized, detailed client. The more detailed and organized you are, the better.
These notebooks also create a self-imposed therapy session where you can purge all of the “bad stuff" that he or she is doing or not doing into the notebooks. You obviously cannot talk to your children about it and who wants to be known as “that lady" or “that guy" who is always badmouthing their ex or their children’s father or mother to everyone and anyone they come across? Not my client.J
These notebooks become your therapy and they are made aware of every little thing that he or she did in violation of the orders. Instead of discussing it in a social setting, you can disclose all of the “bad stuff" in the privacy of your home and it remains between you and your notebooks … unless we have to use it for court, of course.
The bottom line is the best client is the client who comes to me with consistent and impeccably detailed and descriptive documentation. Get into the mindset of “don’t get mad, get documentation."
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about child custody law.