Documentation in Child Custody Cases

Guidelines for Parents in Conflict During Child Custody Cases

Woman doing paperwork with her daughter using a digital tablet in the background
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In resolving child custody cases, it is often beneficial for parents to create a lasting record of the interactions between the other parent, the children, and themselves.

When to Begin Documentation in Child Custody Cases

  • When the other parent is inconsistent regarding your pre-arranged visitation schedule
  • When you notice a negative pattern in the children’s behavior or emotions following time spent with the other parent
  • When the other parent is threatening legal action against you
  • When you are concerned about your children’s physical well-being when in the care of the other parent

How to Record Documentation in Child Custody Cases

To create a lasting record of each interaction, use a spiral notebook or dated appointment calendar to record:

  1. Dates
  2. Times
  3. Topics discussed
  4. Duration of the phone call or visit
  5. Whether the interaction was spontaneous or part of your pre-arranged visitation schedule

For example, if your ex-wife was supposed to pick your daughter up at 3:00 PM for a visit, but never showed up or called to explain why, you would make a note of that, in ink, on your appointment calendar.

Additional Guidelines Regarding Documentation in Child Custody Cases

  • Be careful to keep consistent, daily records. Do not wait until several days or weeks have passed, as this makes it more difficult to remember the specific dates, times, and details.
  • Make sure that your tone is not negative or accusatory. Instead, use your appointment calendar to state indisputable facts.
  • Regarding audio recordings of telephone calls, know the laws in your state. Some jurisdictions do not allow you to record conversations, and doing so can cause you--or your case--more harm than good.
  • In addition, if you have a lawyer, discuss your plans with him or her, as your legal advisor may have specific additional instructions regarding how to handle documentation in child custody cases.