Divorce or separation sometimes becomes inevitable. When you find yourself in that situation, you may wonder how to win your case as the custodian of the child or children. If you have one child, each parent may be interested in taking care of the child. Or being the custodian. This article will guide you on how to keep a child custody journal to help you and the court in navigating through the case.
A child custody case requires the wisdom of the judge to understand better the interests of the child. While you and your lawyers will attend a family court for custody battles with the other parent. There is a need for a detailed plan and commitment by both parents, to present their scenarios in an orderly manner. That requires a child custody journal that is up to date with all the information that should inform the family court during the case.
In most child custody laws and provisions, after a divorce or separation, the court will determine the arrangements for child custody. The court may give them joint guardianship and, in most cases, the parental rights would be made equal.
The home where the child will grow is given preference to the child’s best interest. The court will also check on the child’s relationship with each of the parents, and comfort among other considerations. The other parent who is the non-custodial, is granted visitation rights that may come with restrictions.
What Is Child Custody?
Before we delve into keeping a child custody journal, it is important to understand what child custody means. It is a legal term that profiles the rights and responsibilities of both parents in taking care of the child or children.
What Is a Child Custody Journal?
A child custody journal is a diary of events and visitations. It details everything that happens every day between you, the other parent, and your child. To make a custody journal useful, you will need to keep track of all the events and activities that happen daily. That means you will need to update it daily. You may record as many times as possible in a single day.
Importance of Keeping a Child Custody Journal
When you keep a journal for child custody, it becomes easy for your attorney to follow up on events in the process of your case. It also helps to keep you organized and prepared to produce whatever information is needed, just by referring to the journal.
You may not keep everything that happens in your mind. That is why you need to keep a record. Whether for anything bad or good, it is so invaluable to document for reference when need be.
What You Should Keep in Your Journal
As we did mention, you are obliged to keep track of every activity or event that happens between the parties. That is the child or children, and the other parent. In that regard, your journal should contain the following:
In the context of child custody, the best interests of the child are upheld. The aim is to foster the child’s happiness, emotional well-being and development, and security. A visitation log, therefore, details the date, pick-up and drop-off time, and location. A parent’s visitation is of great value for the child, and this is useful for a family court and your attorney in tracking your visitation.
The communication log is of the same value as the visitation log. It details all the communications that happen between all the parties involved. That includes the date, time, and length of the communication. It also details the nature of communication, and the points raised among other details.
Whatever you will do is in the interest of the child or children. It should not be about you or the other parent. You should always keep accurate and honest. Don’t make it look bad for the other party by giving false information. Therefore, the following are some of the tips on how to keep a child custody journal:
1. Record Daily
You can’t keep everything in your mind. You need to write and keep track of everything that happens during the day. You can record as many times as possible. This includes information like taking the child shopping, buying personal stuff, communications, and any other activity that happens during the day.
Don’t skip anything. Whether it is good or bad. You just need to keep a record. If the other parent makes a visitation, you need to capture the time, the date, and the duration of the visit. If it is communication, you should record the entire process, and what transpired after the communication has been made.
For example: “Linda was so emotional after talking with John for 30 minutes on the phone, she began to cry.” That portrays the reaction that the child shows when he or she conversed with the other parent. Never fake or false the information. It is all about the child’s best interests.
2. Organize Your Journal in A Chronological Order
Don’t haphazardly keep your journal. The journal should be organized for it to be helpful to the court. You should be able to point out the occurrence without spending much time. In that regard, the child custody journal should be in chronological order of events and activities.
It should be able to show the date and time of the occurrences in an organized and chronological manner. It should have a date, time, and order of all the events for that particular day, from morning to the end of the day.
3. Be Fair and Objective
Custody battles come with their challenges. Especially when it comes to visitations, the other parent may fail to show up at the agreed time or even miss due to some unfortunate circumstances. It is in this situation that you should be reasonable when noting down the occurrence of the unfolding. You may want to paint the other parent as non-caring, but be fair and objective not to miss the point of what the child custody journal is all about.
It should be presented fairly and objectively that is devoid of hatred, emotions, or frustrations.
4. Keep a Routine Schedule of Your Child
You also need to keep the routine activities of the child, which includes everything that the child does. That should look like, “Michael played soccer with other children in the field.” or, Michael was taught how to play piano by his elder brother.” Some of the other things to record are visitations and track of all the events that occurred during the day.
It is of great importance to keep track of your child’s schedule, including the meals, homework, and other activities. This will be useful to your attorney and would also serve to enhance the best interest of the child.
In addition to that, as we did mention, everything should happen in order. You should detail every activity or anything that the child does for the day in order. It should show the real-time, duration, and location among other details that would be useful for the court.
5. Point out Your Role as A Parent
Keep the journal updated with your role as a parent as well. This is of enormous value for the growth and development of the child. The court would want to ensure that the child is safe, protected, and grows in an environment that is free of abuse.
You should record all your roles as a child. That is all the things that you do for the child while in your hands. That should capture things like shopping, treats, school fees payment, and other things that touch directly on the child.
6. Record Other Parents’ Roles
The other parents’ roles are also of great value for the family court and your attorney. Of course, the parental roles may look similar. You should record the number of times when the other parent does anything that impacts directly on the child. That includes financial support, provision of food, clothes, and other responsibilities.
For example, “Peter took John to the market and bought him a jacket and a pair of shoes.” This is so important for the child, and also for the court. You should never underestimate the effort of another parent for the sake of your win. After all, your journal may look biased if it lacks concrete and positive information regarding the other parent. When that happens, the court may choose to disregard your custody journal in their decisions.
7. Details What Your Child Says About the Other Parent
Without indulging your emotions, if the child talks bad about the other parent, you should record all of them without bias. In this case, never force the child to falsify against the other parent. The child can also talk positively about the other parent. Therefore, don’t be biased only to hear and record the negatives.
If the child appreciates the other parent for something done to him or her, you should record her positive emotions and appreciation towards the other parent as well. All you need here is fairness. Regardless of which party should win, the child should always win.
8. Record the Moods of Your Child
You need to be sensitive to the moods of the child at all times. Daily, you should record the mood of your child, whether happy or sad. And perhaps the events that may have triggered the mood. You may find a situation when a child comes home crying or sad. That is a moment to record. What should come before is the event, whether he or she was playing in the field, or after conversing with the other parent and you see a change in the mood.
Whether happy or sad, you should record, but in a fair and unbiased way. For example, “After John talking on the phone with Amanda, his moods changed and he was so happy the whole day.” This indicated that the child custody journal should keep track of all the events and should not only capture the negative moments.
9. Keep a Record of The Child’s Progress and Performance
The journal should also capture all the child’s progress reports and performance. Whether in school or at home. In some instances, a child may have some illness and be taken to a hospital for a particular number of days. In those days, you should document what happens when in the hospital, and her improvements daily.
On the same note, you should detail the school’s progress and performance. Whether the child is improving on performance or not. If after separation, the child starts to perform poorly in school, you should also note the declining performance. There should be no bias in all your records, and this will serve to help inform the decisions of the court on the best practices that both parents should put in place for the sake of the child’s performance.
10. Don’t Be One Sided
Keeping a one-sided story may not be helpful in the long run. Therefore, you should record all the information that touches on the child, the other parent, and yourself in a balanced way. it should not always be about the other side. The family court would want to have the two sides of the story to make a meaningful judgment.
The decisions of the court on who should be a custodian of the child will be based on many factors. That includes the child’s preference, security, mental health, and perhaps the age of the child as well. The parent who becomes a non-custodian will enjoy some privileges of visitation and shared responsibilities towards the growth and development of the child or children.
Therefore, this article on how to keep a child custody journal is so helpful for the involved parties. If you are facing a custody case in a family court, then you ought to equip yourself with these valuable tips to help you and your court.