Confirm every communication with an email, not just a phone call.

Posted June 29th, 2016.

Categories: Custody Tips, Family Law.

email changes mark guralnick

Let’s assume you have custody of the kids. This weekend, your ex is scheduled to have the children. Pickup is slated for Friday at 6 p.m., and the children are to be returned by Sunday at 6 p.m. Your ex wants to pick up the children at 4 p.m. this Friday, however, and you agree to this request, provided that he returns the children by 4 p.m. on Sunday.

If you made this agreement on the phone — and nothing more — you will have little proof to make your case when your ex fails to bring the children home until 6 p.m. on Sunday. You should confirm your agreement in writing, by way of an concise email. The effort may seem unnecessary for the smaller matters, and in fact you may have a very good level of communication with your ex. But the best practice — and the one that will protect you in court in the event of a dispute — is to confirm all parenting schedule modifications by email.

The same goes for informal conferences with your ex. Let’s say your lawyers schedule a four-way conference to review options for summer vacation visitation time. You and your ex make some preliminary agreements during the conference and you agree to keep the dialogue going in a follow-up session. Dispatch an email summarizing what you discussed at the first session. Get it in writing, and print it out. Not only will it be helpful when you revive your communications, but it may also protect you if there is any attempt to retreat from an agreement previously made.

This practice extends to communications with your own lawyer. If your lawyer advises that she spoke with your ex’s lawyer and agreed that the two of you would divide equally the driving time during a series of winter holidays breaks, you should issue a confirming email to your lawyer, reiterating the terms of the agreement, as they were stated to you.

Too often, we revert to casual methods of communication in the child custody field. This is not a good idea, and it is simply too easy to send an email these days to ignore the advice of getting and putting everything in writing.

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