So, you're going to be going through child custody. It's a long long road, and a very hard one at that. It makes it so important to know how to pull together and organize any evidence you have or may need. It is best to actually collect evidence before you actually need it. You may be able to save a good amount of money, and drastically improve your position for negotiations.
Starting right now with things fresh in your mind is most definitely best. This includes events and other vital information. You should start writing a journal, and add entries to it every day. These entries should include things such as, activities with your child, behavior of your child, incidences committed by your child and/or the other parent that cause you concern.
The court is interested in the best interest of the child when making decisions about child custody. some of the factors are:
1. Current custody schedule already in place
2. Domestic Violence - Is there a history of domestic violence in the home and around the child?
3. Living standards and situations of both parents
4. Neglect - Has either parent neglected the child?
5. Parent's Active Involvement - How involved in your child's life are you?
6. Substance Abuse - Does either parent abuse drugs and/or alcohol?
7. Willingness to Co-Parent - Both parents need to show a willingness to co-parent the child
These are some factors to keep in mind while you are gathering evidence for your case. The evidence needs to be relevant and support your cause
The most common and useful types of evidence typically used in child custody cases are:
1. All communication with the other parent including, but not limited to: emails, text messages, voicemails, and letters
5. Audio Recordings
6. Schedules - with emphasis on any times that the other parent had to cancel or reschedule visitation
7. Records - including but not limited to, medical, school, financial, police reports
8. Social Media
The daily journal that you have started may be one of the most important things you have. Anyone is able to give an oral testimony about what happened during specific exchanges or incidents involving the child. But, with a journal, you will be able to refer back to the written entries to refresh your memory about specific instances. You also come across as a very organized and prepared person.
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You are also going to want to keep a calendar. This is documentation of how much time you and the other parent have spent with your child. It goes hand and hand with your journal. It also gives you and your attorney another tool that will visually show the time you spent with the child. Make sure the calendar is readily available at any time. Make sure to note when the other parent denied you visitation along with other problems the other parent has caused.
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By compiling all of the documentation that you've kept track of with your journal and calendar, you can make graphs to visually show missed visits, problems, etc by how frequently these instances happen. This is one tactic that is very likely to have a high impact on the judge.
Along with all of the evidence you have compiled, your attorney can also present kid-centric photo albums. By having the judge seeing tons of pictures of yourself and the child having fun and smiling, it is hard to argue that you are not a good parent.
Sometimes witness may be needed. Potential witnesses could be family members, employers, counselors, physicians, coaches, teachers, daycare workers, record keepers, etc. Make sure you keep all of their contact information available to your attorney.
Things to include in your list:
1. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
2. If the witness is available to testify
3. If your witness is willing to testify
4. If your witnesses' employer will allow them to take time off to testify
5. The evidence that you want the witness to produce
6. How the witness can benefit your case
One thing to remember is that witness testimonies help the judge determine how legitimate claims and allegations are in the case. Usually the most influential evidence comes from witnesses who are not biased towards one parent, have personal or expert knowledge of yourself, the child, and the other parent.
Most importantly about voicemails is that you do not want to play a long irrelevant message for a court. You need to go to the most important part of the voicemail. Write down the time stamp of where it begins and ends. However, make sure that you have the full voicemail readily available if it is being played for the court.
For the evidence to be admissible in court, it must remain relevant for the child custody case. You do not want to waste the court's time on irrelevant matters that do not have anything to do with the child's well-being and best interests.
Having credible evidence is key. Your personal testimony alone will not carry as much weight with the the judge as it will when presented with clear, objective, factual, and organized evidence.