Yes, it really does matter. A log can be submitted to a custodial evaluator, a guardian ad litem and/or a judge (as a Statement of Issues, a Report to the Court, or a supplemental submission at a trial). It gives people a succinct, organized presentation of the facts (your version of them), as they consider your situation after they've spoken with you or heard your testimony. Plus, people tend to feel that your story is more truthful if it appears that you jotted down each fact as it happened, when it was fresh in your mind (even though of course people can lie in writing just as they lie in speech).
But how much attention people will pay to your log is, of course, subjective. So it matters that you:
- Persevere: request a change of judge, if you're entitled to one and you're getting nowhere with the current one; appeal bad rulings.
- Keep your log factual (not distorted with your emotions or complaining);
- Keep it truthful (so you don't get caught in a lie or an exaggeration);
- Keep it simple (the more succinct you are, the easier it will be to follow);
- Make reasonable requests based on what you log (for example, if all you really had to document were each time STBX irritated you, or was 5-10 minutes late for things with the kids... and then you used that log in requesting supervised visits... eventually someone would expose that you're just out to get him and he'd wind up looking like the sympathetic party);
- Each time you log something, think about whether there's a receipt, phone record, etc. that could prove your accuracy, if it's called into question - and tuck that proof into your folder, if you can.
Here are some personal examples, if you want them:
During their custody battle, DH's ex got a P.O., expecting to use it to keep DH away from their son. However - here, at least - P.O.s are very easy to get and you don't have to prove the accused person did anything. Therefore, courts are very reluctant to let P.O.s affect the accused person's access to their kids. However, if a man is convicted of violating a P.O., it's a different story. He could serve up to a year in jail and would likely suffer diminished parental rights. So the very day the P.O. was issued, the ex began a log she titled "Protective Order Violations". She gave it to police once it reached several pages and 30+ entries. The officer who received it wrote a scathing Affidavit of Probable Cause (a recommendation that the Prosecutor press charges), expressing serious concern about the ex's safety, due to so many alleged violations. The prosecutor pursued DH with a passion, culminating in a full-day jury trial.
But although the sheer length of the ex's list was definitely compelling to authorities, once it was actually picked apart at trial, it had no substance. The vast majority of it was just the dates and times DH had picked up or dropped off DSS for his court-ordered visitation, in the court-ordered manner - with many complaints from the ex about him being a few minutes early or late, or DSS' clothes being wet after sledding, or her assumption that the company car DH drove belonged to him and proved he had more disposable income than he'd reported... none of which were relevant to the P.O. The only legitimately worrisome accusation was that DH had stalked his ex in a parking lot. She had carelessly assumed he'd never be able to prove he didn't do that. But luckily, he'd been in a meeting out of state at that exact hour, with federal contractors, so there was an official, certifiedlog, proving he was not in the same parking lot as his ex!
So in that case, her effort to detail every complaint about him backfired, because she was trying to create a log to further an agenda, rather than keeping a log because there was a legitimate problem.
On the other hand, when the ex later took their kid and moved across the country, DH had the hardest time in the world getting a judge to care about how little parenting time (if any at all) his ex gave him, when he flew out to visit. It was so frustrating! He would report this to the court. She would lie and say he'd had plenty of parenting time. The court - and even the custodial evaluator - concluded there was no way to tell who was telling the truth...and in the absence of a specific visitation schedule, who could say how much parenting time was "enough", anyway???
What ended up being absolutely critical was making a chart showing when he'd visited (supported by his plane tix), exactly how much P/T he'd received (supported by the ex's email telling him when he could see DSS) - and comparing that to how much time DSS had spent in daycare while DH had been in town (supported by the daycare sign-out sheets) . Then DH's atty. put the ex on the stand and painstakingly proved that my chart was accurate, by having her confirm that yes, she had written each e-mail and no, there were no other emails she could show the court, where she had changed her mind and offered DH more P/T. FINALLY, the judge realized Wow! In the last school year, this man had spent the equivalent of 2 months trying to visit his kid out of state and had been given the equivalent of less than 2 days of P/T, while the kid had spent maybe 10 times that in daycare, from which the ex refused to let DH pick him up. The judge gave DH sole custody!
Again, the keys were that the chart had no emotions or complaints (like the verbal testimony); it was supportable (eliminating the he said/she said); it was simple to follow; and it gave the judge something to look at, to keep DH's version of the facts fresh in her mind, even after he left the stand.