What we lawyers do is really an ancient art, and a common one at that. It’s called storytelling. We tell the story of your case using evidence. The successful telling of that story can result in the achievement of the desired outcomes in your divorce and result in winning your case, as in the case of a woman we’ll call April:
April and her child exited a 10-year marriage with a high-conflict spouse that was characterized by family violence and substance abuse. Her family undertook a Section 30 Custody Assessment, which involved psychological testing of both parents. Able to articulate the story of her relationship and its dissolution to all parties involved (eg. Children’s Aid Society, the police, the Custody Assessor and court documents), April was properly heard.
In the end the Assessor’s recommendations were that April should have primary residence of her child, sole decision-making authority and the majority of parenting time.
April’s outcome might seem like a unicorn in the family law world, but it came down to evidence.
These 5 tips will make telling your story more efficient, cost-effective and, ultimately, successful in winning your case
1) Create a Google (or Dropbox, or another cloud service) Folder
Name it something boring, that your ex (who by now should have no access to your email) would never suspect. Think “Files”. Upload any evidence to this folder, dated and named. Good examples include photos and video of holes your ex punched in the walls or furniture they broke, bank statements that demonstrate an unusually high level of alcohol or marijuana purchases and any piece that adds to the telling of your story.
2) Keep A Log
For reasons of security, and the ability to easily sort or search by date or keyword, a Google sheet is a great option. It’s online and therefore easy to update on the go. Your sheet might include columns like: Date / Time / Who’s Involved / Witnesses / Notes. This format will allow you to track your ex’s behaviour over time, deduce and demonstrate patterns. More importantly, when needed by the Judge, lawyer or mediator, it is easily accessible and searchable.
3) Ask For Theraphy Notes
If you – like many survivors of family violence – have trouble remembering events, ask your therapist for their therapy notes. This can help you reconstruct the chronology of your relationship, and you can then input specific events into your log. Don’t have a therapist? Time to get one. Feel free to ask us for referrals.
4) Keep Your Communication In Writing
Keep your communication with your ex in writing, preferably using a parenting app like Talking Parents or Our Family Wizard, or over email. Follow Bill Eddy’s Brief Informative Firm and Friendly Response (BIFF) principles in all your communications, and let your ex do their thing. The communications can be used as evidence of inability to effectively co-parent or make decisions in the best interest of your child, or of the pattern of coercion and control that is endemic to family violence.
5) Invite Others In
This is hard. It’s hard to admit you’re in an abusive relationship, and it can feel shameful to share it with your family, friends, doctor or your child(ren)’s teachers. However, all these people form what is called your “collaterals”, the people who may end up writing affidavits for you down the road or speaking about your ex’s behaviour patterns. The community that will come from you reaching out will not only help you articulate your case; they will also help you if you struggle with wanting to return to your abusive partner, and form a support network for you as you build the life you deserve.
At Benmor Family Law Group, our clients are active participants in their cases. These 5 tips to documenting like a pro will positively impact your case, whether you’re self-represented or working with a lawyer it will help you in winning your case.Share this article on: