This article was created in cooperation with Tomasz Domanski, author of “Alimentor – Child Custody Log” app available for iPhone, iPad and Mac. To learn more about the app, visit alimentor.org.
1. Embrace Change
Divorce or legal separation is challenging. If you have recently separated from your partner, chances are that you may have no idea how often you will be able to see your children and how much time you can spend with them. You need to set new boundaries, gain stability and clearly define co‑parenting responsibilities.
To be able to negotiate an optimum parenting agreement, you need to determine what is best for you and your children. It is not uncommon to jump to conclusions before you have all the information.
Often, you may have an idea what you think you want but do not have information about how that looks in practice or in terms of expenses.So, how can you begin to plan for your future and for your children in a way that makes sense?
- Document your parenting
- Build a support team
- Establish a preliminary custody schedule
- Take control of your divorce process
2. Start Documenting Your Parenting Time and Efforts
It can take months, sometimes even years, to get a divorce and reach a fair child custody agreement. Divorcing parents who do not systematically document their parenting efforts and do not regularly collect and organize evidence may face negative consequences.
You can certainly use traditional tools to capture all important facts and figures, such as a calendar to track visitations and calls, and keep a spreadsheet file with all significant expenses.
If you choose to use Alimentor to record your parenting activities, you will enjoy the benefits of using a dedicated tool, optimized to help parents going through divorce to keep written documentation.
You will have all of your information well‑organized in one place in a form that is easy to share with your co‑parent and/or your legal representative too.
What should you log?
- Parenting time (visitations)
- Parent‑child calls
- Important events (health, school…)
- Communication (parenting arrangements)
In each Alimentor record you can store:
- Scheduled dates and times (if applicable)
- Actual dates and times
- Photos and scanned receipts
- Documents in PDF format
Every few weeks, read what you have collected and decide if there are any irrelevant records that you delete. Check that your notes contain all important facts and can be understood by others who are not directly involved in your divorce case such as a mediator, divorce coach, lawyer or judge.
3. Build Your Support Team
It is critical to create a support team as you begin the separation and divorce process.
Although you may be tempted to rely on family and friends, you need professionals with experience in the field to support what is best for you and your children.
A very good first step is to reach out to a divorce coach who can help you put together all the other team members you may need, including legal, therapeutic and financial too.
In addition to practical support, a divorce coach can help you stay organized for the process and hold you gently accountable to the goals you set at the beginning of your work together too.
Turning to your divorce coach rather than your legal representative saves you resources and they are, frankly, better prepared to help with non‑legal matters.
If you have begun gathering information in Alimentor, you can use the data there to explain your situation and refer to specific events and documents that you may otherwise forget.
You can share your Alimentor records with your divorce coach and other supports in three ways:
- Generate detailed PDF reports containing a range of data tailored to your specific needs such as: visitation calendar, expenses and reimbursements.
- Export all records to a spreadsheet file. Use it to prepare case specific calculations and create charts.
- Share your entire database with other Alimentor users to provide them with instant readonly access to your records, including your visitation schedule, memos, expenses, etc.
4. Share Records With Your Ex
Sharing detailed information about parenting activities with the other parent regularly is usually the best practice. It may encourage a more co‑operative approach, and, as your divorce coach will suggest, this is a path that will save you time and money and support your children’s development too.
Ask the other parent to install Alimentor and then share your records with him or her, or regularly send reports in PDF format. Parents can mutually share data by creating and exchanging invitations with access rights.
5. Establish Preliminary Custody Schedule
Routine and repetition is a good way to create a sense of safety for our children. Even if the larger stuff seems hard to pin down at the beginning of your divorce process, try to agree on how you can temporarily divide parenting time and the costs of raising your children using the information you have collected so far.
You can talk to your divorce coach about how it looks and what regular custody schedules look like and then tailor it to your family needs.
Start by scheduling visits for the next few weeks. You do not need to create recurring events at this point if you think it is not yet possible to follow a fully regular schedule.
6. Take Control of Your Divorce Process
Your divorce coach can help you learn about the available options in divorce proceedings. There are many process options, including mediation, collaborative law and litigation. Learn about all of them, then choose the path that is going to work best for you.
Remember that the more cooperative you are with each other, the better your children will do in the long run.
If you have good support, you are likely better able to communicate more effectively with your spouse and focus on taking care of yourself and your children.Tag your records with “best interest” factors to be able to generate reports that focus on a specific topic, like health of the child or educational opportunities.
You can also read Alimentor usage tips to learn how to effectively use the application right from the start.
In sum, a good child custody journal app, like Alimentor, and the support of a good divorce coach can make your separation and divorce manageable.
If you believe the right tools for the job are always better, you can trust that these two things, Alimentor and a good divorce coach will help you de‑escalate and cooperate to a fair resolution. This will allow you and your children to thrive in the long run.
Cherie Morris, CDC®
I practice as a divorce coach and transformational mediator. I’ve spent much of my life navigating relationships and the conflict that necessarily arises in them. As part of a blended family as a child and now as an adult, I experienced divorce as a two-year-old child and now as a mother of four. My study of conflict resolution started during my undergraduate years and continued as a practicing lawyer. My additional training in mediation and coaching is always about the possibility for agreements and how to achieve what people want and need. My own experience makes clear that those with the most contentment in their lives usually find balance between extremes. This necessarily requires compromise and cooperation with others. However, shifting our own necessarily limited perspective can be difficult. My current full-time work and training in transformational mediation and coaching help all of us to show up as our best selves, when we are most receptive to absorbing both the energy and ideas of others. This takes time and a willingness to embrace many modalities: coaching, mindfulness, maybe legal help, and therapy, too. I’m here to help you connect you with what you need to achieve a resolution of your conflict that works for you.
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I have two websites: www.DearDivorceCoach.com and www.Recompose.Us. Both sites help you navigate prepare for and navigate life transitions, including divorce. Let’s talk and see if I can support your goals. You can reach me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. A consultation is always free so we can both make sure it’s a good fit! Reach out today!