New Year’s Resolution #1: I Will Keep a Parenting Time Journal

parenting timeBy Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

As you reflect on the year that has passed and plan for the year to come, you should take time to think about where you are in your case, how far you have come and where you want to go, too.

Talk to your attorney and resolve yourself to make this year a better year for your family, your wallet, and your sanity.

This first New Year’s Resolution is for you parents.

New Year’s Resolution #1: I Will Keep a Parenting Time Journal

Your son or daughter probably tops the list of the most important people in your life, and you may have even uttered the words “I will do whatever it takes to win custody” to your attorney. As a family law attorney, I commend you.

It takes a tough father to ask “why” of the often unstated, but still dominant, assumption that children should reside primarily with their mothers. But, also as a family law attorney, I can tell you that not every disagreement or problem you have with parenting with your wife or ex is significant enough to call your or her attorney.

We want to hear and know about every problem, of course, but calling for each one will have you racking up a hefty legal bill and forgetting them when they do matter, at a hearing or trial. Instead, you should write them down so that you can discuss them with your attorney together and remember them when the time comes to testify.

I recommend my clients keep a parenting time journal. For a few dollars to purchase a notebook and a few minutes a day journaling, you can keep a valuable timeline for your case.

If you are computer savvy, you can keep an electronic journal (just be sure to password protect it). If you are a writer, you might update it every day. If you are not, you might just jot down notes when problems arise. Keep the journal in a secure place, such as a lock box, out of your wife’s or ex’s and your child’s reach.

These notes are for you and your attorney only, and they can easily misinterpret them if you write in particularly venting passage, which you may. Some clients write “Attorney-Client Log” on the cover and address passages to me so that the entire journal is more likely to be treated as attorney-client, and therefore, confidential communication.

Be careful with what you write, if you intend to use your journal when you testify. Testifying is a bewildering experience, what with the formality of the courtroom and an opposing attorney grilling you, and you may forget important details about events that you journaled.

If you can refresh your memory by reading a passage, you may request to review it. If you cannot refresh your memory but are certain that your memory was accurate when you wrote in your journal, ask to use your journal as evidence of your recorded recollection. In most courts, you may use your journal for these purposes.

However, your opposing attorney may also be entitled to read the passage you referred to and offer it into evidence  – including any rambling curse words you included. That journal could turn from helpful to damaging. So, if you intend to use your journal to help you testify, always write as if the judge is watching.

Of course, always call your attorney for an emergency. Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.

I also outlined two other New Year’s Resolutions for you:

Resolution #2: I Will Copy Work, Medical and Other Important Records

Resolution #3: I Will Think Before I Speak


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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