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Keep a Journal
July 6, 2016

JournalParenting disputes between separated parents can be difficult to resolve simply because the court is not in a position to see all that is going on. Whether it is at trial to decide a final parenting plan, a hearing to decide a temporary parenting plan while a case is pending, or a contempt hearing where a parent is alleging non-compliance with the parenting plan, the judge has to rely primarily on testimony to understand the situation. Even when the parents are basically honest, they often recount very different versions of events.

A powerful tool for a parent to use is the contemporaneous journal. In this journal, the parent records all of the events that occur relevant to the parenting of the children. Each entry should have a date and time, should recount what was said and by whom, and should include any other interesting information.  And, the parent should record these events as they are happening.

The journal’s usefulness is in supporting the parent’s testimony. When there is a disagreement about past events, the parent’s ability to state that he or she has kept a contemporaneous journal can lend credibility to that parent’s testimony consistent with what is in the journal. So long as the journal appears accurate, was made as the events happened, and is fairly detailed, the journal can render the testimony almost unimpeachable.

A good time to start a journal is when you first notice that something is wrong regarding the parenting of your children. You may be able to resolve the problem short of litigation. But if you cannot, having the journal may help support your position down the road.


This website provides general information to the public on legal issues. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact Brandli Law for advice on specific legal problems.

Brandli Law PLLC * PO Box 850, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 * (360) 378-5544