No parent wants to go through a child custody battle as part of a messy divorce or legal separation. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a parenting time schedule, however, you may face a court trial for child custody. In this event, arm yourself with all of the evidence and documentation that you can to help prove your case. Work with an experienced child custody attorney for assistance with this highly emotional type of case.
Character Reference Letters
At a custody hearing, witnesses are typically not present to give in-person testimony. However, you can submit written testimony from character witnesses, such as character reference letters. This is a letter written by someone who knows you and can support your requested custody arrangement. The character reference letter should give a judge insight into your relationship with your child and how you take care of him or her. Ideally, these letters should be written by people who know you well and have first-hand knowledge of your parenting.
Keep a journal or logbook where you document exchanges between you, your ex-spouse, and your child. Track behavioral patterns, such as if your ex had an angry outburst or is behaving aggressively. If your ex does anything that could be relevant to a child custody case, such as forgetting to pick your child up from school, write it down.
Write down your child’s behaviors, milestones, and daily routine, as well. Use the log to document your relationship with your child and your capabilities as a parent. This can give the judge a better understanding of what daily life looks like in your household. Keep your log as organized as possible to make it look professional when submitting it to a judge.
Communications From Your Ex-Spouse
Keep copies of all correspondence, messages, and communications sent to you by your ex-spouse. Take screenshots of text messages and emails, keep letters or written documents, and gather receipts. Keep in mind that it is illegal in California to secretly record conversations with your ex-spouse. You must have a party’s permission to record private conversations.
Your Child’s Records
Gather together all records and documents connected to your child. This may include medical records if he or she has a chronic condition or special health care needs, health insurance, your child’s daily schedule, extracurricular activities, childcare expense records, educational fees, and schoolwork and education records. If your case involves domestic violence, child abuse or other crimes, bring copies of police reports. Keep a log showing how much time your child spends with you and your ex-spouse, as well.
Suggested Parenting Plan
It can be helpful to bring a copy of your desired or suggested parenting plan or custody schedule with you to a hearing. This can give the judge an idea of the arrangement that you believe is in your child’s best interest. Your parenting plan should include a detailed breakdown of how much time you think your child should spend with either parent and account for special dates such as holidays and vacations. If you are attending an in-person hearing, bring enough copies of the plan for yourself, the judge, and the other parent.
Work With an Attorney to Improve Your Custody Case
A custody battle is a highly stressful time for the whole family. The best way to protect your legal rights, advocate for your child’s best interests and go up against your ex-spouse during a custody case is by hiring an experienced family law attorney in San Diego to represent you. Your attorney can help you gather records, information, and documents to serve as evidence to support your case. If testimony from witnesses will help, your attorney can help you gather together strong options. Hiring an attorney improves your chances of reaching a satisfactory custody settlement and avoiding a lengthy, expensive, and emotional custody court battle. If you are going through a custody battle, contact the experienced custody lawyers at Boyd Law today.