Journaling is a popular way to work through emotions, keep logs of your activity and behavior, and document events. Keeping a journal can be extremely useful before and during your New York divorce.
Journals and Mental Health
Divorce is likely one of the most challenging life circumstances you may ever face. Journaling has been shown to offer quite a few benefits that may help you move through the divorce. Taking the time to write down your thoughts and emotions can:
- Increase your awareness of what you’re going through and how you’re reacting to it, giving you distance so you can adjust your reactions.
- Decrease your anxiety. The simple act of writing about your feelings and experiences helps to reduce anxiety.
- Help you feel comfortable opening up about your feelings, allowing you to get the most out of therapy and talking to friends.
- Regulate your emotions. Studies have shown that people who journal can better understand and manage their emotions.
The simple act of writing down your thoughts can have a huge positive impact on your mental health.
Journals and Custody
If you have minor children, custody will likely be a significant issue in your divorce. Keeping a parenting journal can provide important evidence that can be used as part of your case. Custody cases are all about demonstrating your involvement, connection, and interactions with your child and documenting your spouse’s parenting shortfalls and lack of interaction.
You can and should begin to keep a journal like this before you and your spouse even separate because it can provide a clear picture of how you both parent on a day-to-day basis. Continuing to keep the journal after you separate is also important because it will show how you are parenting in separate homes and how you are sharing time with your child.
Keeping a journal that heavily focuses on parenting can be a very important piece of evidence for the custody portion of your case. This journal should include:
- The agreed-upon parenting schedule as well as what actually happens, such as times your spouse is late or a no-show, as well as how this affects your child.
- Phone calls, texts, video calls, emails, and other communications you have with your child when you are not together, as well as these types of communications you facilitate between your child and the other parent.
- All the things you are responsible for and when you do them when it comes to your children, such as meal prep, school and activity transportation, laundry, homework help, bathing, playdates, helping with problems with friends, buying clothes and school supplies, attending events, planning birthday parties, and holiday events for your child, taking them to medical appointments, caring for them when they are sick, communicating with the school, managing child care, and more.
- How your spouse disciplines your child and how you discipline your child.
- Your child’s reactions to the other parent and spending time with them.
- Phone calls and meetings you have about your child with health care professionals, educators, coaches, counselors, and anyone else who provides care or services to your child.
- Concerns about your child’s health, cleanliness, emotional state, and demeanor after spending time with the other parent.
- Time your child spends with half-siblings or stepsiblings and their connection and attachment to each other.
- Attempts you make to try to work out issues about your child with your spouse
- Information you share with your spouse about your child to keep them informed and involved.
- Information about times you have been late to or missed your scheduled times with your child, including reasons and explanations, as well as things the other parent has done to make it difficult for you to spend time with your child or have a healthy relationship with them.
This journal can be used to assist you in providing testimony during the case and can also be directly entered into evidence so that the judge can see all of it. It is important to be accurate and honest when creating this journal because if there is any hint that it is untrue, the entire thing may be disregarded. Note that you should not include anything in this journal you do not want the court to see because if it is used for evidentiary purposes, the entire journal will be accessed and seen by the judge, your spouse, and their legal team. Be sure to talk with your attorney about how to best keep a parenting journal.
Journaling for Other Purposes
Journaling can be useful during divorce for several other purposes, including:
- Documenting incidents of domestic abuse and/or threats.
- Tracking marital assets your spouse removes from the house or withdraws from financial institutions.
- Documenting information that suggests your spouse is hiding assets.
- Detailing expenses related to your child’s health, education, and needs to be used when setting child support payments.
Journaling can provide mental health benefits and can also create important evidence that can be used in your divorce trial. It is very important to discuss journaling with your attorney so that you can create a record that will be the most useful in your case.