Keeping a Verified Log
One of the first pieces of advice a family law lawyer will give you is to start keeping a log. Sometimes that’s a calendar with notes, sometimes it’s a journal of what has happened. Whatever form it takes, the idea is to have a record that is better than your memory. It’s one thing to testify in front of a judge and tell her what’s been happening, but it’s something else to remember everything that you have to tell. It’s also easy to tell stories, they’re a little more likely to be true if it comes from a record you’ve been keeping over time. Put yourself in the judge’s position: often two people come in and give completely different accounts of what has happened. The judge has a very limited time to determine who is telling the truth before making some very important decisions. If one person has been keeping a log, that can go a long way toward backing up their side of the story.
But, as most students can tell you – faking a journal isn’t that hard. Confession time: in high school I took a class where we were supposed to keep a journal and write in it a few times a week. But the teacher didn’t grade the journal until the end of the semester. Probably unsurprisingly, I got behind on my entries and eventually stopped doing them all together.
Shortly before the due date I sat down with the journal and a handful of different pens and pencils and got to work. I wrote entry after entry in the course of a very long night – frequently changing my writing utensil to give it some authenticity. I even remember dog-earing a few pages and staining one with water. Comparing notes with other students, I wasn’t the only one to take this approach.
The point of this article isn’t to confess my poor work ethic. It’s to point out something that high school students and judges both know: it’s pretty easy to fake a journal. If I can do that in one night at age 16 – a family law litigant can do it before trial just as easily.
Don’t take this the wrong way – a journal is still better than nothing. And if you’ve spent the past few months dutifully keeping a history you haven’t wasted your time. But there’s a better way to do it.
Split Schedule offers a history that can’t be fabricated the night before trial. Our software keeps track of when calendar events are created and makes that information available to judges, lawyers, and other professionals. Better still, we track all edits and deletions of those entries so it’s possible to reconstruct exactly what information was shared and when. If you sat down the night before trial and generated 100 entries in your Split Schedule calendar, the judge would know that you entered them all the night before trial.
Better yet, Split Schedule lets you add to entries with having to worry about the judge second guessing when you did the work. There can be lots of good reasons to edit or add to an entry. For example, before a scheduled visitation with your coparent you put it on the calendar. After the visitation you can go in and enter a description of how it went. Later, you may want to discuss something else that happened later but was related to that day. Each of those entries (originally scheduling the event, the first edit, and the second edit) are all tracked by our software, and easily accessed be observers. Even if the judge is not an observer on your account, you can print off the information and bring it in to Court.