Keep a Written Record of Everything During Your Divorce
Key Points
  • It is important to keep good records and stay organized throughout your divorce. Whether you think something is significant or not, it is always better to keep copies of everything.
  • Every time you call your lawyer, write it down. Every time you have communication write it down. This way, you can double check your lawyer’s billing.
  • Keeping paper copies of all correspondence also keeps you organized; this way you know what issues you did or did not talk to your lawyer about.

Events will occur that you might think are legally significant but are not. There may also be issues that you consider insignificant on which your lawyer will place great emphasis. In a lawsuit, things that start out as irrelevant details sometimes wind up years later being the crux of the case.

The best way to keep track of details-both significant and insignificant-is to keep written records of everything. Keep a journal memorializing each day’s events, and let your lawyer know that you are keeping it so he can ask for it if he needs to. Your journal may be used as evidence at trial. Keep it as factual as possible and do not put private thoughts into it.

Keep copies of everything you send your lawyer and everything you get from your lawyer. It is helpful to file the papers in date order so that you can find them when necessary. Never let anyone borrow your only copy of something. The time it takes to make a photocopy is minimal compared with what could occur if an important document were lost.

It is also helpful to keep a log of your oral communications-and attempts at communication-with your attorney. There will no doubt be times when you call your lawyer about something important, but by the time your call is returned, some other emergency has cropped up and the issue you intended to raise becomes lost in the shuffle. Or what if you place several calls to your lawyer about separate issues, but he or she doesn’t call you back until the fourth call? Will you remember what all four of your issues were? What if you feel as if your lawyer never calls you back, but he or she insists that all your calls are in fact returned?

Make a copy of the "Phone Log" in and keep it near your phone or with your divorce paperwork. Each time you place a call to your attorney, make the appropriate entries in the phone log: date, time, reason for the call, and what you were told and by whom. For example, if your lawyer was not in when you called, and you were told that he would return your call later that day, write that information down, together with the name of the person you spoke with. That way, when the lawyer does return your call, you can go to your log and remember why you called him. When a call is returned, make the appropriate entries in the last two columns-the date, time, and duration of the return call. By using a phone log, you will be able to keep track of whether your calls are returned, how long calls lasted (to verify the accuracy of your bills), and what each call was about. If your lawyer repeatedly fails to return your calls, the log will serve as documentation when you write to the lawyer or a disciplinary body about the problem.

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