[D]ads who are unfamiliar with the court system often don’t realize that even in family court, there are a lot of procedures in place to expedite the process of settling child custody matters. Because of this, a court will often make a number of assumptions about how much time Dad spends with his kids, and will default to standard visitation arrangements at a temporary custody hearing. The court treats your case as one of hundreds of others that day. It’s up to you to show that your case is different–document time with your kids.
When It Comes to Custody, Document Time with Your Kids
What this means is that it is important to establish how much time you spend with your children now, not later. While you don’t have to walk around with a checklist, making a note on your calendar on a daily basis (if possible) about how much time you spend with your children will strongly help the court determine whether or not to use a standard guideline.
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Often fathers go into court not realizing that standard visitation is a lot less time than they are used to, and don’t realize what is happening. Having information available about how much time you spend with your children (and with dates) makes a huge difference to the court in how much of a role you play as a parent.
It’s also important to remember that between the temporary and final hearings, you want to continue this process of recording the time you spend with your children, perhaps building photo albums and any details about the events you can will also be helpful. The court will review how you’ve used your time between the temporary and the final hearing– a process which could take months– and make a determination accordingly. If you want to avoid the standard treatment, make sure the court knows the time you invest in your children in some detail.
How do you document time with your kids? How did your temporary hearing go?
Image from my own custody court boxes.