As the year comes to an end, a new calendar was likely a present received during the holiday season. Many of us instinctively throw out an old calendar. But wait; it can be so much more than a trip down memory lane!
If you are one of the many people who will be filing for divorce from your spouse, or will be filing for custody of your child, don’t throw out one of the most important pieces of evidence that can help you prove your case.
In custody actions, you will be asked to replicate your child’s sports and activity schedule, health history, as well as important events. During the stress of litigation, many people suffer from brain fog. It’s a thing – really. A lawyer will be peppering a client with countless questions spanning many, many issues, and oftentimes, it is hard to remember details. Yet, in litigation, details are what can make or break your case.
Looking at an old calendar helps a parent remember the activities that need to be considered in a custody schedule. It helps a parent remember how many birthday parties a child attended, which in turn helps the parent create an accurate budget. Indeed, one of the most common areas of a budget that I question my clients on is the “gifts” section. Constant birthday parties gets expensive, and it is a child centric expense. It also jogs the memory for travel expenses for children on higher level sports teams. How many games were 100 miles from home that necessitated a hotel stay?
Visits to professionals are another category that is easy to forget. Does the child have a therapist or doctor that he or she sees regularly? How many times during the year did the child go (and how many co-pays were there)? This is yet another category of items that are easy to overlook.
The other issue is the consistency of a parenting time schedule. Child support is calculated, in part, by the time both parents spend with the children. If there is a significant deviation from the intended parenting schedule, this may be cause for an increase or decrease in child support. The best way to prove the case? Last year’s calendar.
In divorce actions, the calendar can provide important information about expenses to take into consideration for support. Support in a divorce is based on, above all else, the lifestyle during the marriage. What better place to go when describing life style then the calendar? It’s easy to remember the big trips you took to Disney World or the Caribbean. But what about the 5 trips into New York for dinner and a show? To Philadelphia to see the historic sites? To high end restaurants just for the heck of it? Saying you did it is one thing. Proving it with specific dates is another. Similarly, refuting a claim is easier with the calendar.
If there are extraordinary circumstance which suggest a deviation from what may be a more typical support or equitable distribution scenario, facts to back up a claim can often be gleaned from an old calendar.
So take some advice – don’t part with the old calendar just yet!