You already know that when it comes to co-parenting, you NEED TO document everything. There are apps available to help, in the last blog post, our guest Tim from Custody X Change helped us see how a simple journal can help you with documentation, but what exactly do you document?

This week, we’re talking about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to documentation. The approach I take in this post is one of positive co-parenting. As you’re reading this, there will be things you may have a hard time with or may disagree completely with. I encourage you to try these to see what happens long term.

  1. Be detailed! Whether in an app or in a journal, be as detailed as possible. What time of day was this? What was the conversation - including quotes if possible? If things are hearsay, what makes you believe that they’re true? What following-up did you do for any hearsay items?

  2. Don’t send all documentation to your ex. It can be easy to say, “I’m documenting that you (insert anything here)”, but some items are left as simple documentation - just in case. Why is that? When you send every little bit of documentation that you have to your ex, how do you think it would make them feel? It would make them feel attacked, wouldn’t it?

  3. Know your goals. Why are you documenting? Are you documenting in an effort to find every single thing wrong with your ex? Are you documenting just to be on the safe side? Are you documenting because your ex uses court as a way to communicate? If you’re documenting in an effort to pick apart their parenting, I would encourage you to stop documenting right now and take a step back to review the relationship you want to have with your children’s other parent. Documentation should be there just in case, it should be a way to quickly and efficiently review what needs to be reviewed, rather than trying to find things that need to be reviewed.

  4. Document the positives, too. Regardless of who your ex is, if your goal is truly to have a positive co-parenting relationship, document the positive things your ex does for your kids or for you! If your documentation is only negative, what do you think will happen long-term? You’ll be unable to look at your ex with anything other than resentment because all you’ve done is look at what they’re doing wrong.

  5. Remember we all make mistakes. If your ex was documenting everything that he/she saw in you, what would they find? I would argue that they wouldn’t find perfection. We’re all human, your ex included. If they forget to send your children to school with boots and snowpants once in awhile, it may be just that - forgetfulness. If they forget to send them with it every day of winter, then it’s something else. The point is to remember that mistakes happen and just as much as you wouldn’t want your ex reminding you of mistakes you’ve made, they won’t want it either. Which promotes a healthy co-parenting relationship?

Documentation is necessary, but what you document can either help in a positive co-parenting relationship or hurt. Comment below with how you’re documenting and staying organized!

Documenting is one of the tools I talk about in the co-parenting after divorce videos. Think you can't co-parent with your ex? Try the communication tools in the videos, then decide if you need to move to parallel parenting. Click on the button below to learn more. 

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Kaern Becker, MA Life Coach