Documenting Child Custody Issues

I want to talk to you about the importance of documenting child custody issues.  When I refer to child custody issues I realize that can seem like a fairly broad topic and I will explain further in this post.

As I have frequently noted throughout my site, parents working together to co-parent their children is usually the best option for the child.  But the reality is, we all know that isn’t always possible.

Sometimes parents simply cannot work together and at other times there are very real issues that prevent doing so, such as domestic violence, abuse or a parent that just doesn’t want to contribute or work with the other.

Whatever your particular situation is, it is important to keep track of any ongoing issues or concerns through documenting any child custody issues that arise.

Even when you have an amicable relationship with the other parent of your child(ren) it can be very beneficial for both of you to document things.  Don’t think of this as a tool to use against the other parent, but more of a journal for keeping track of important matters regarding your child(ren).

Some examples of things you might document would be the following:

  1. General behavioral information
    • How do the child(ren) behave before going with the other parent compared to coming back from the other parent?
    • How do the child(ren) behave day to day or in various settings?
    • Are there any other behavioral issues
    • Are there any behavioral issues concerning the other  parent
  2. Transition or pick up/drop off issues
    • Is the other parent on time or frequently late?
    • Do the children respond well to the transitions?
    • Are there arguments or confrontations at the transitions?
    • Is the time and place of transition suitable for both parents as well as the children?
  3. Medical issues with the child(ren)
    • Are there any current or ongoing medical issues?
    • What types of treatment is needed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?
    • Are there any contributing factors to these medical issues?
    • Do they seem to be exacerbated following a visit or time with the other parent?
  4. Legal Issues
    • Are there any legal issues involving the other parent such as civil or criminal matters?
    • Are there any issues of known issues of possible criminal involvement of the other parent?
    • Are there any issues or concerns regarding the current custody plan?
  5. Safety Issues
    • Are there any safety issues that you are concerned about with the other parent has the child(ren)?
    • Are there indications that the child(ren)’s safety is at risk when with the other parent?
    • Are there any concerns of abuse or neglect?
  6. Communication Issues
    • Are there problems communicating with the other parent such as arguing or lack of communication?
    • Are there concerns or issues with how you communicate with the other parent?
    • Are there concerns or issues with the communication between the other parent and the child(ren)?

The above list is just a sampling of some of the things that are important to document.  Please keep in mind that not all issues are bad issues.  Documenting child custody issues is not just a matter of trying to hold the other parent’s feet to the fire or to have something to use against them.  Document the good things as well, such as when you notice an improvement in behavior or when communication gets better between you and the other parent.

It is very helpful to use documentation as a way for both parents to be accountable but also to be informed.  In today’s online world it is actually very easy to have an ongoing journal that you and the other parent can use together for documentation.

My son’s mother and I used to just have an email account solely dedicated to documenting or journaling.  Our son was very young and we had 50/50 time sharing established.  We did not have the best relationship and so we used email as a way to keep each other apprised of important issues regarding our son.

If the need ever arose for us to go back to court, this documented journal would have also served the purpose of holding us both accountable so it does certainly have a valuable function there as well.

As I stated previously, I do understand that there are times when that sort of communication between you and the other parent is not possible.  In those cases, keep your own journal of events.  You would be amazed at how powerful it can be as evidence if ever needed, but also it is a great way of being able to refer back in time because you can’t be expected to remember everything all the time.

The email option is one way as I stated above, and even if the other parent does not participate, email is a great free option for journaling that also serves the purpose of having a documented time stamp of when the entries were made.  This is far more powerful than a handwritten journal because it could always be claimed that those things were written after the fact which may make them less credible.

Of course, if your only option for documenting child custody issues is through use of a traditional handwritten journal, that is still better than nothing.  The important thing is that you do document things and that you remember that there are so many more benefits to documenting child custody issues than just a way to hold things against the other parent.  Think of it more as an accountability tool but also a way to keep track of important issues regarding your child(ren).  I hope this has been a helpful article and reminder for how helpful and important documenting is.



8 thoughts on “Documenting Child Custody Issues

  • October 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Great page Robert. While I am lucky enough to have custody of my young son it hasn’t been without its issues including a mother who insisted I pay for a legally binding mediation agreement on custody only to see her immediately break all agreed actions, which have consequently left our son in a legal no mans land, stuck half a world away from his mother and unable to travel back to visit her, as by refusing to sign his immigration papers like she agreed, he is stuck here till our legal appeal is sorted. Talk about mother’s shooting themselves in the foot…. Anyway I will give some thought of keeping a journal of some sort on my end it may help with what I can only imagine will be the shit fight from hell when her incompetent lawyers finally have the guts to take me on in court….

    • October 6, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      I am sorry to hear of this situation. It is so hard on the child when a parent is absent. I wish you the best in everything! Thank you for the comment.

  • October 6, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    This is such an informative website. This is thankfully something I never had to deal with but if there was someone struggling with these issue, parent custody laws or single parenting, I would be happy to refer them to your website. Very thoughtful content with the degree of research you have done with all aspects of child custody issues. Loves the pictures you chose to match with the content.

    • October 6, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Thank you so much for the feedback. It is much appreciated!

  • October 7, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Wow! What a great informative page. This is a page worth sharing with my single friends who may be going through similar issues. I like that the page provides much needed information that people need. I also like that you have provided resources for people to go to that may help them further. Keep up the great work. Enjoyed looking at your page.

    • October 7, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Thank you very much for the feedback.

  • October 7, 2016 at 11:14 am

    What a fantastic article and I can totally see the reasons why keeping a journal of these things is a good idea. I have a male friend whose marriage has broken down and his 3 kids are shared between him and his ex-wife, but it does seem unfairly weighted towards the mother. Do you find that is how it usually pans out in shared custody situations? I know he finds it really hard, and I don’t profess to knowing all the ins and outs of their relationship or the particular needs of the children. However, you don’t have to look far in the media to see there are many fathers who feel hard done by. I’m going to share this with my friends, as I know they are having ongoing difficulties with the shared custody arrangements. Thanks so much!

    • October 7, 2016 at 11:14 am

      Hi, and thanks so much for your comment. In regards to your question, I believe the tide has really begun to turn on the old school of thought on whether the mother is automatically favored. These days I believe the system looks at it much more holistically and now accepts that what is best for the child is extensive involvement and contact with both parents. Thanks again.


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