Would Keeping A Log Of My Spouse’s Behavior Help Or Hurt My Case?
Keeping a log is definitely a good idea. An attorney can advise on what details are most pertinent to the case and what should be kept in a log. It is important to be mindful of the expense involved; asking the attorney to review a 600-page log of a spouse’s behavior when only 10 pages of it are relevant to the case is only going to waste time and money. It’s a good idea to figure out exactly what details will potentially be helpful. In general, the behavior of the spouse as it relates to the care of the children should always be noted, such as being regularly intoxicated or using drugs around the children or becoming violent (even if the children aren’t present). These types of behaviors should be logged, as they are relevant to child custody.
An attorney should be consulted about whether or not it is legal in your jurisdiction to record conversations with the spouse. In general, it’s not legal for a person to record a conversation to which they are not a party, but there are places where it’s perfectly legal, even if the other person doesn’t know that what they are saying is being recorded. Recording conversations that involve the children is generally frowned upon, if not illegal, so an individual should speak to an attorney before doing this.
Remember if you are going to record anything that you are expected to be on your best behavior! You know you are being recorded, so the court reviewing the recording will expect you to behave perfectly. You should not be arguing in front of your child or engaging in any other inappropriate behaviors, including bating your spouse, on the recording.
It is a good idea for a person to store written logs, videos, and recordings in a cloud-based manner that is accessible only with a password that only they know; they should not write down the password anywhere, nor use a password that their spouse would easily be able to guess. After uploading a video or recording to the cloud, any copy on the phone or other device should be destroyed so that the spouse does not find it. It might not even matter if the spouse knows that this information is being collected, and they’ll find out eventually if it is used during the divorce or custody litigation, but it’s very important that they don’t find and destroy the information prior the divorce or custody litigation.
In terms of finances, it is very important to log any information that could disappear. For example, take pictures of personal property of value that do not have titles and could therefore disappear without a trace. It might be wise to talk to an attorney about whether to put some in a safe deposit box for safekeeping. Oftentimes, it can make sense to relocate something like a coin collection or jewelry that is worth quite a bit of money. At a minimum, take pictures of personal property of value in order to give some support to the fact that those things existed. Items that have titles (e.g. car, boat, motorcycle) are less problematic because the titles can be traced. However, if someone owns a Harley Davidson that they invested $10,000 in over the years, then they might want to take a picture of it to show its condition and actual value.
In this day and age, it’s pretty easy to find records that are destroyed because almost everything is computerized. However, it is still a good idea to gather certain documents, like bank statements and other account records. If one spouse is financially in the dark during the divorce, they should look for evidence of unknown accounts, stocks, bonds, investments, and retirement funds. You may take a photo of the statements you find rather than take the statements themselves. During divorce litigation, your attorney can demand copies of all financial documents, but if your spouse is trying to hide assets, it will help guide your attorney if you are able to show where accounts are held.
If I Want To See A Therapist Before And During The Divorce Process, Could My Spouse Use That Against Me?
In general, therapy records are confidential. In order for someone to access their spouse’s therapy records, they would have to show there is a mental health issue relevant to the case. It is not uncommon for people to face temporary mental health issues such as anxiety or depression while dealing with a bad marriage or the divorce process. For this reason, the courts not only understand why some people seek therapy during their marriage and divorce but the courts actually encourage it. No one should be afraid to seek treatment and to freely seek help from a mental health professional.
The most common mental health issue found in a divorce case is one that impacts a parent’s ability to properly parent. Even if such an allegation is made sufficiently such that the court decides a party’s mental health records should be shared, the mental health records generally are first shared only with the judge who reviews the records to determine what records are relevant to the custody issues and may be shared with the attorneys on the case. In the usual case, the mental health records are not copied and shared with the parties and are kept confidential and only certain parts are allowed to be read by the attorneys on the case.
Even if the records do come to light during the divorce, it should not be harmful in the child custody litigation as long as the party who sought treatment has their mental health issues under control. It would be much worse for someone to suffer from mental issues and not seek treatment or follow the recommendations of their treating providers.
If Someone Is In A Volatile Marriage, Could Leaving Without Bringing The Children With Them Be Used Against Them?
Unless there’s an absolute risk of immediate physical harm, a spouse should always talk to an attorney before making the decision to leave the home. Leaving children behind in a volatile situation is something that could definitely be used against a spouse. If a parent leaves their children behind in a house with a violent spouse, the courts will generally take that to mean that the parent who left views the other parent as an acceptable custodian for the children. This doesn’t mean that the parent who left will not get a lot of time with their children, but they’ve basically said to the court, “I left the children in the care of this person, and therefore, I view them as an appropriate person to care for the children.” A court may not believe claims of domestic violence by a spouse who left children with a parent against whom those claims are made.
On the other hand, if the court believes the claims of domestic violence and a parent chose to leave the children with the violent parent, the parent leaving the children behind in the potentially dangerous situation could find themselves charged with neglect. Therefore, when looking to leave a domestic violence situation, it is important to seek assistance to protect yourself and your children. to avoid being placed in harm’s way. An attorney can explain what you need to do to avoid losing any rights to your children
Even in situations where there isn’t domestic violence, verbal or physical abuse, leaving the children behind could preclude a parent from gaining primary custody or shared placement. A parent may reduce their chance of being a custodial parent by leaving the children behind with the other parent. When a parent moves out, they essentially surrender custody to the spouse with whom the children were left. Prior to moving out, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney, unless a risk of physical harm prevents this. When possible, it is best to reach a custody agreement before moving rather than after when one spouse is at a disadvantage. Reaching an agreement before moving out allows both spouses to know what is going to happen with the children.
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