If you believe you are going to be involved in a custody case, it is important to know how to gather and organize any evidence you may need. By collecting the evidence you may need before you actually require it, you may be able to save a lot of money and vastly improve your negotiation position.
You should start now, while everything is fresh in your mind (including events and other vital information). Start writing a journal, and add an entry in it every day. This practice should include any activities with your child and any behavior or incidences committed by your child’s other parent that cause you concern.
Your Child’s Best Interest
When making decisions about child custody, the main thing a court is interested in involves doing what is in the best interest of your child. Judges use certain custody factors when they have to make decisions about child custody. These factors include:
1. Current Physical Custody Schedule Already in Place
2. Domestic Violence – Is there a history of domestic violence in the home?
3. Living Situation and Standards of Both Parents
4. Neglect – Have either you or your child’s other parent neglected your child?
5. Parent’s Active Involvement – How involved in your child’s life are you?
6. Substance Abuse – Do you or the other parent abuse drugs and/or alcohol?
7. Willingness to Co-Parent – You must show a willingness to co-parent your child.
When you are gathering your child custody evidence, you want to keep the above factors in mind and ensure your evidence is relevant and will support your case.
The Types of Evidence You Should Gather
The most common types of evidence in child custody cases include:
1. All communication with your child’s other parent, such as emails, text messages, voicemails, and letters
5. Audio Recordings
6. Schedules – including any times your child’s other parent had to cancel or reschedule visitation
7. Records – including medical, school-related, financial, and police reports.
8. Social Media Posts
Your Daily Journal
Your daily journal may be one of the most important pieces of evidence you have. Here is the reason why: Any parent can give an oral testimony about what happened during specific exchanges involving your child. However, a parent will have better proof if they have a journal can refer to their written notes, in order to refresh their memory.
Your calendar is documentation of how much time you have spent with your child. It is much like your journal, but it gives you and your family law attorney another tool to use that visually shows the time you spent with your child.
Make sure your calendar is easily available at any time. Note the times when the other parent denied you visitation, as well as other problems with your child’s other parent. Before you have to go to court, go to the office supply store and buy a 5’ x 3’ calendar. Write all this information on it, and take it to court with you.
Show the court a graph of the missed visits if there is a problem with how frequently you are allowed to see your child. Like your calendar and daily journal, this tactic will have a higher impact on the judge.
With all the evidence you and your family law attorney can present in court, kid- centric photo albums are among the most influential. By having the judge see hundreds of pictures of you with your children, it is hard to argue that you are not a good parent.
Your Witness List
Your potential witnesses may include your family members, employers, counselors, physicians, teachers, coaches, and record keepers. Make sure you give the information in the list below to your attorney. Alternatively, you and your attorney can work on this list together.
1. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
2. Whether your witness is available to testify at a hearing or trial
3. Whether your witness is willing to appear in court and testify
4. Whether your witnesses’ employers will let them take time off work to testify
5. The evidence you want the witness to produce
6. The way your witness can strengthen your case. It is important to note that all of your potential witnesses may not be able to add to your case.
Keep in mind that witness testimonies help the judge determine how legitimate your claims and allegations are in your child custody case. Generally, the most influential evidence comes from witnesses who are not biased and have personal and/or expert knowledge of you, your child, and the child’s other parent.
Do not forget to add your child’s daycare provider, teachers, and neighbors to your witness list.
If you have a lot of long voicemails from your child’s other parent, you and your attorney will want to quickly get to the relevant portions of the voicemail. Oftentimes, it is not necessary for the court to hear the entire message. You could even anger the court if you play long messages that are irrelevant.
However, it is important to have all the full voicemails available, should the court request them. Also, you and your family law attorney should discuss how and when you are going to present the voicemails in court.
Make Your Evidence Credible
In order for your evidence to be admissible in court, it has to be relevant to your child custody case. Do not waste the court’s time on issues that have nothing to do with child custody, your child’s well-being, and the best interest of your child.
If you are in a custody battle, the day will soon come when you will have your final hearing, and the court will decide the custody of the child. In order to win custody and prove you are the better parent, you should present a lot of convincing evidence.
Keep in mind that your personal testimony will not carry much weight with the judge. Therefore, you and your family law attorney will dramatically increase your chances of winning your custody case by presenting clear and organized evidence.