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Child Custody: Tips on What to Do

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During a custody dispute, your actions will be looked at very closely by the other parent (or that parent’s attorney). Here are some useful tips that you will want to consider when you are in a custody case:

  • Keep the other parent involved in the children’s lives as much as possible by exchanging information with that parent regarding the children. This includes information about the children’s health and educational needs.
  • Let the other parent know about any upcoming extracurricular activities in which the children are taking part. Give the other parent enough notice so that he or she will have time to make arrangements to be at the activity.
  • Immediately notify the other parent of any illness or injury that requires emergency medical treatment for the children.
  • If you and/or the children leave the county that you reside in while the children are in your care, provide the other parent with relevant information in case an emergency arises. This includes a means of contacting you or the children, the hotel name, your destination, length of stay, expected return date, etc.
  • Make sure that the other parent has a way of contacting you while you are at work.
  • Keep the other parent informed of all appointments the children have with doctors, dentists, orthodontists, therapists, eye care providers, and other healthcare providers.
  • Inform the other parent of any prescribed treatment for the children.
  • Give the children any prescribed medication while they are with you.
  • If you are late for an exchange of the children with the other parent, call that parent as soon as possible to let him or her know that you are running late.
  • If your children are upset with the other parent and do not want to stay with that parent for a visit, encourage them to keep in contact with the other parent and encourage them to visit with that parent.
  • If the other parent calls to talk with the children, and the children are not able to talk with the parent when he or she calls, let the children know that the parent called and to call the parent back.
  • If you call to talk with the children when they are with the other parent, call at reasonable times and for a reasonable duration, which may vary depending on the age of each child.
  • If your children call you, and you are not able to talk with them, be sure to call them back as soon as you are able.
  • If you have access to the other parent’s social media accounts (such as being friends with the other parent on Facebook), check out what they have posted to see if there is anything that would be useful for your case against them.
  • Keep and organize any documents, including photographs, report cards, text messages, emails, and letters, that you think would be useful in your case.
  • When disciplining your children, do not use corporeal punishment. Spanking or slapping your children is typically frowned upon by the courts.
  • Be as involved in your children’s lives as possible. Know who their friends, teachers, doctors, and coaches are. Go to school functions and your children’s extracurricular activities.
  • Keep in contact with potential witnesses (such as the persons listed in the previous tip) so that you can easily contact them if they are needed to testify at a court hearing. Make a list of these witnesses, along with their current addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Be honest and truthful when discussing your case with your family law attorney. Your attorney cannot help you to the best of her ability if you omit facts or events that may reflect poorly on you as a parent. This is particularly important because the other parent will most likely try to use these facts or events against you in court, and your attorney needs to be prepared on how to respond.

These suggestions hopefully will help you in your custody case. If you have any questions or concerns about what you should do, discuss them with your family law attorney to ensure that you are doing everything possible to strengthen your case. Also, take time to read the article, Child Custody: Tips on What Not to Do.

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