Many individuals would have a much better chance of winning their custody case if they would keep proper documentation. Failure to do so severely weakens their position.
You should keep detailed records because documented evidence like medical records, visitation logs, and telephone logs are much more powerful as opposed to, “His mom hardly ever calls or visits.” Plus, a court will not change the schedule without actual evidence or facts and proof that supports your position. You should always assume the other parent is keeping the detailed records of your visits and the length of your telephone calls.
How a custody case works
First you need to understand the way a custody case works. Do not do it yourself, be smart and contact your experienced and trusted family lawyer. You have no business representing yourself in a custody case. In the legal profession we say, “Anyone who represents themselves has a fool for a client.” Why? You cannot be objective and detached. Also, if you are not a licensed lawyer, you do not know what you are doing, irrespective of how much you have read about it on the world wide web. I am not a heart surgeon and would not attempt to try to perform a heart bypass on myself. I would be committing malpractice if I advised you to do so.
In any custody case, your trusted family lawyer must first file a petition, and a proposed parenting plan and it must be served upon the other party with a court summons. The petition cites your custody lawyer's hand tailored facts and arguments relevant to your case. It outlines your position and asks the court to make certain findings. Many custody lawyers attach supporting documentation you have provided as part of the case. The court will consider this in making it's ruling.
Child's medical records
Provide your family attorney a copy of your child's medical records. Medical records are evidence of your child's relationship with the other parent and how serious the parent is about the child's medical care. Maybe your child leaves your home with no problems and regularly comes home with injuries or sickness while with the other parent? A court could find the other parent's neglect of the child's health is adverse to the child's well being.
Educational records also provide additional evidence in a child custody case. Perhaps the child lives with the other parent during the school week and is failing a subject. Is he completing his assignments on time? Maybe he has accumulated numerous absences and is regularly tardy when he stays with his dad. Judges have law degrees and take a dim view of a parent who does not ensure her child is completing his educational requirements successfully.
Collect letters from teachers or educators familiar with the child's relationship with both parents, and provide them to your attorney well in advance of your court date. Since letters are hearsay and not admissible in court, your family lawyer will need to subpoena the individuals to testify at trial.
Keep a copy of the text and email messages sent between you and the child's other parent.
You want to keep a log of every telephone call with your child and the other parent, and how long the call lasted. Be careful not to put yourself into the position that the other parent avoids calling your child because you are making it difficult for him or her to do so. The judge will not be happy with you if you impede or try to interfere with the relationship with the parent and child. It is what is best for the child, not how much you and your ex despise one another or cannot get along.
Also, keep a record of every visit your child has had with the other parent. How long was the visit. Some parents choose not to exercise the entire scheduled visitation time with the child. A parent not exercising his or her entire visitation time with the child may not be interested in maintaining the continuous relationship the child needs.
Does your ex have a history of dropping the kids off a day early? Maybe he or she chooses not to exercise every other weekend but instead only keeps the kids one weekend a month? It is much more powerful and carries much more weight if you have kept track of the dates as opposed to a general statement, ‘he only visits sometimes.' Keep phone call logs, visitation logs, to show whether the other parent is maintaining a continuous and meaningful relationship with the child.
It is always best to err on the side of caution and provide too much documentation to your attorney as opposed to not enough. You make your case stronger with more documentation and weaker with less documentation.
I am Jim Judkins and for a decade family law has been a big part of my practice. I enjoy helping people. Located in the heart of Murfreesboro and in Smithville, Tennessee, I represent clients in family law situations all throughout Tennessee. Helping people successfully through the some of the most turbulent times of their lives gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from James M. Judkins, attorney or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient's state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.